02/22/2012 1:34PM

Fair Grounds: Pace may suit Bouquet Booth in sprint return

Barbara D. Livingston
Bouquet Booth makes her first start since July in an allowance Friday at Fair Grounds.

Steve Margolis contemplated a return in the Mardi Gras Stakes earlier this week for Bouquet Booth, but then he got to thinking a little deeper.

“I decided I should just try for an easier spot,” the 48-year-old trainer said.

“Easier” is relative, and it wouldn’t necessarily define the Friday feature at Fair Grounds, where a 10-race twilight card will start at 5 p.m. Central. But it probably beats having to return from a layoff of more than seven months to face the likes of Daisy Devine, a multi-stakes winner who wound up capturing the Mardi Gras over a yielding turf Tuesday at the New Orleans track.

Bouquet Booth, winner of the Silverbulletday last January at Fair Grounds, is one of seven fillies and mares in the eighth race Friday, a $53,000, third-level allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track. Margolis said Bouquet Booth required time off after finishing a disappointing sixth in the Indiana Distaff in July and that the 4-year-old filly “sure has seemed to come back the right way.”

Nine workouts starting Dec. 19 at Fair Grounds are testament to the fact that Bouquet Booth should be ready to roll.

“The 5 1/2-furlong distance probably isn’t ideal,” said Margolis, noting that all six of the filly’s races last year came at a distance. “But this is a good way for us to get started with her. She’s proven on dirt, Poly, and turf, and we’re hoping to have a good, long, productive year with her. We’ll get this race into her Friday night and go from there.”

Speed aplenty is in opposition to Bouquet Booth, and if the pace is too fast, then things might actually set up nicely for her after she breaks from post 2 with Robby Albarado aboard. Three very rapid rivals are drawn to the outside of the starting gate – Sakakawea, Starlite Starbrite, and Sharp Tongue Lady – and on paper, it looks as if a swift pace is nearly unavoidable. One other possible beneficiary of a torrid pace is Jocata, a last-out winner of a Churchill Downs allowance for trainer Cecil Borel.

The twilight card includes one other allowance, a $49,000, first-level turf route carded as the second race. The Friday twilight programs are the latest in an effort by Fair Grounds to promote racing to a younger crowd. Two such cards remain on the schedule, on March 16 and 30.