01/25/2012 12:28PM

Fair Grounds: She's Picky will try to relax in featured route


It isn’t often that the richest race on a Friday card is the first, but that’s what six-horse fields will do to a racing secretary. A second-level optional $40,000 claimer with a $51,000 purse will be run at Fair Grounds before most folks can enjoy their soup du jour, a testament to the overall strength – or lack thereof – of what’s on tap Friday at the New Orleans track.

She’s Picky, Sterling Madame, and Quick Praise make up the better half of the cast for the Friday opener, a 1 1/16-mile race that looks good enough to lure some extra bettors to make a day of it. First post Friday for the nine-race card is 12:40 p.m. Central, as opposed to the 5 p.m. twilight post that is being used on the occasional Friday this winter. The next one of those twilight cards comes Feb. 10.

She’s Picky was too eager when setting the pace before faltering in a similar spot Dec. 23. Trainer Paul McGee is hoping Corey Lanerie will be able to get the 4-year-old filly to settle after she breaks from the rail, and that she will be part of a more relaxed tempo this time around. She’s Picky, a Jay Em Ess Stable homebred, earned the highest Beyer Speed Figure (83) of her seven-race career when capturing a maiden race last February over this same Fair Grounds surface.

Sterling Madame, trained by Tom Amoss, has never run a bad race and is entered off a three-length triumph in her first try at a route. That front-running victory came as the 3-5 favorite in a first-level allowance Dec. 28. Jimmy Graham will be aboard Sterling Madame on Friday.

Quick Praise, with leading rider Rosie Napravnik taking the call from Greg Foley, also is entered off a winning December effort, having knocked out her first allowance condition with a gritty neck triumph. The 4-year-old  Quick Praise was co-bred and is owned by the Upson Downs Farm, the Goshen, Ky., nursery that had the standout sprinter Tar Heel Mom  as its most recent success story.

Chicalelee, Irish Dixie, and Secret Wish round out the field.

With the Road to the Derby Kickoff series having been run last Saturday, there won’t be another notable stakes race at Fair Grounds until the $75,000 Tiffany Lass is run Feb. 11.