03/01/2012 5:20PM

Fair Grounds: Little Ms Protocol could be a vulnerable favorite

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Little Ms Protocol is likely to start as a deserving favorite Saturday in the $60,000 Sarah Lane’s Oates, the featured race at Fair Grounds, but the characteristic that makes her look fairly formidable on paper – her level of accomplishment – is the same thing that suggests others might have a chance in the one-mile grass race for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies.

With seven starts, Little Ms Protocol has raced more than most of her opponents in the Sarah Lane’s Oates. She’s done very well, too, winning four of those starts and earning $228,840 for owner-breeder Coteau Grove Farm. Little Ms Protocol’s best work has come in two-turn races at Delta Downs, but she also has shown good form on grass, winning a sprint stakes at Louisiana Downs and finishing third in an open turf-route stakes there.

All in all, Little Ms Protocol looks fairly well exposed at this point in her career, her capabilities laid bare for handicappers. She has yet to race in New Orleans, and it remains to be seen whether her finishing kick is as effective in the long Fair Grounds stretch, and at a short price Little Ms Protocol might be worth trying to beat with one of her lightly raced opponents whose best performances have yet to take place.

A few such animals exist. Sunday’s Child was entered in the last race Little Ms. Protocol won, the Feb. 4 Premier Starlet at Delta, but she was stuck on the also-eligible list and didn’t get to run. She won her career debut on opening day of the Fair Grounds meet by 1 1/2 lengths before finishing third in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie, and those six-furlong sprint races might have been shorter than ideal for Sunday’s Child, a good-looking daughter of Any Given Saturday.

She’s Prado’s Idol, has made one start on turf, finishing second last summer at Louisiana Downs while debuting in an open grass-route race. Her grandfathers are Zarbyev and El Prado, turf influences both, and She’s Prado’s Idol looks like a filly who might enjoy her first trip down the long Fair Grounds homestretch.

Scratchmybackhoney won her first start in a turf route, on Jan.  6 at Fair Grounds, beating Insincerely Yours by one length. Both fillies return for the Sarah Lane’s Oates, and both have a chance to move forward, perhaps enough to challenge the likes of Little Ms Protocol.