02/08/2013 4:11PM

Fair Grounds: Magical Moon gives dirt another try in sprint feature


The Grade 1-placed filly Magical Moon will be getting a second chance to show she can handle dirt in Sunday’s $47,000 feature at Fair Grounds. Her first experience on dirt didn’t go so well.

Debuting in a five-furlong maiden race last June at Churchill Downs, Magical Moon finished fifth, beaten by 6 3/4 lengths.

“We don’t know why she ran like that the first time,’’ trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “It was a bad race to boot. Maybe she doesn’t like the dirt, but I’d be shocked if she doesn’t.’’

On Sunday, Magical Moon, who will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, will be facing six rival 3-year-old fillies in a first-level optional $50,000 claiming race at six furlongs. Magical Moon, who will be making her fourth start, hasn’t raced since finishing third in the Grade 1 Alcibiades on Oct. 5 on the Polytrack at Keeneland.

She ran on turf in her second start, routing maidens at Saratoga by 10 1/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong race. Stall said he ran her on turf to avoid tougher competition on dirt.

“The turf maiden races and dirt maiden races at Saratoga are like apples and oranges,’’ he said.

In the Alcibiades, Magical Moon broke from the post 13 in a 14-filly field. After racing close to the early pace in a wide trip, she pushed to the lead in the stretch. But she tired in the final furlong, finishing two lengths behind winner Spring in the Air.

“She just needs to relax,’’ Stall said. “That’s her problem. She tends to overdo it.’’

Two days after the Alcibiades, Stall said, Malibu Moon was off to Camden, S.C., for a freshening. She arrived at Fair Grounds in early December.

Stall said that her workouts on dirt – at Saratoga and at Fair Grounds – indicate that she should perform well on the surface.

Mama’s Dia switches to dirt after winning her career debut in a turf sprint Dec. 14. against maidens in her debut, will race on dirt for the first time. An El Corredor filly trained by Tom Amoss, Mama’s Dia worked five furlongs Feb. 2 in 1:00.60, the fastest of 51 workouts that morning at the distance.

Truly Marie, trained by Mike Stidham, will be racing on dirt for the first time since she finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Sprint Preview Stakes on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. Her only victory came on Polytrack at Del Mar, and four of her last five races were on turf.

Boss Barney’s Babe, trained by Bret Calhoun, defeated maidens by 5 1/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong race switched from turf to dirt Dec. 30 in her last start. Queen Cumulus, trained by Steve Asmussen, finished third at this distance and class level Dec. 29.