03/24/2011 4:03PM

Fair Grounds: Siblings clash for first time in Duncan Kenner


It is not uncommon for two sprinters to have similar characteristics, most notably speed. It’s just that Cash Refund and Early Return share more in common than most.

Both are brown geldings trained by Steve Margolis and owned and bred by the Klein family of Bert, Elaine, and Richard; both are stakes winners at Fair Grounds; and both are out of the same mare, Swept Away.

On Saturday, these two entrymates – half-brothers due to being by different sires – will have a chance to distinguish themselves from one another when they race against six other sprinters in the $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes on the Louisiana Derby undercard.

The six-furlong Kenner marks the first race between the two siblings, something Margolis said that up until now, he and the Kleins were reluctant to do. He said they tossed around the idea of running one at Oaklawn instead of Fair Grounds, but opted to enter both in the Kenner due to the rich purse and the affinity each has shown for the Fair Grounds strip.

Cash Refund, a 5-year-old by Petionville, is 5 for 5 at Fair Grounds. Early Return, a 6-year-old by Carson City, is 3 for 5 over the Fair Grounds main track with two runner-up finishes.

The two are coupled in the wagering due to common ownership. Another Margolis-trained runner, Three Day Rush, runs as a separate betting interest.

Asked who he thought stood the best chance of this trio, Margolis praised all three, but noted “’Cash is awfully hard to get by.”

Cash Refund’s speed could prove the difference maker in a race not overloaded with pace, at least for a six-furlong dirt stakes. And one of the other primary speed horses, sibling Early Return, is employ stalking tactics, Margolis said.

Brian Hernandez Jr. rides Cash Refund, while Shaun Bridgmohan is on Early Return.

Corey Lanerie rides Three Day Rush, a second-level allowance winner at Fair Grounds on Feb. 12.

Interestingly, six of the eight runners in the Kenner are returning from layoffs of two months or more. This seems caused in part by a gap in the Fair Grounds stakes schedule between the Jan. 22 Gaudin Stakes and Saturday’s Kenner. The only stakes sprint in between for older males was on the grass.

Making their first starts of the year in the Kenner are Riley Tucker and Snapshot, two graded-stakes quality sprinters.

Bayou: Upperline looks like one to catch

The first stakes race on Saturday’s 14-race card is the Bayou Handicap, which goes as the third race.

A turf race at 1 1/16 miles, it drew just five entrants, though it did attract the top three finishers from last month’s Allen LaCombe Memorial Handicap – victorious Upperline, second-place Category Seven, and third-place Forest Uproar.

Pago Hop Stakes winner Valli With a Vow is also in the lineup, as is first-level allowance winner Born Indy U S A.

Without a true front-runner in Bayou, the pace figures to be a crawl, which should turn the race into a test of whom can quicken most effectively late.

Upperline, making the third start of the year, again appears poised for a strong effort and will likely prove the one to catch in the stretch under leading rider Rosie Napravnik.

Although Forest Uproar may not be quite as quick as Upperline, she also appears well suited to the conditions, having repeatedly shown the ability to rally successfully from behind slow fractions.

Of the top finishers from the Allen LaCombe, Category Seven could be the mare most disadvantaged by the anticipated slow pace, but her record of 12 wins from 25 turf starts suggests she should not be counted out.