02/15/2013 1:49PM

Fair Grounds: Smith eager to see how Wire Me Bessie handles turf in Happy Ticket prep

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NEW ORLEANS – On turf or dirt, Wire Me Bessie will be running in the allowance feature Sunday at Fair Grounds.

Trainer Richard Smith said he wants to see if Wire Me Bessie, who has won her last two starts, can handle grass. There’s no reason to think she can’t, he said.

“She was born on it,’’ he said, using a Charlie Whittingham line. “I think she’ll run anywhere. I just want to see.’’

The $53,000 race, the sixth race on a nine-race card, was written as a prep for next month’s Happy Ticket Stakes. Six older fillies and mare are scheduled to run about 5 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Through Friday, the course hadn’t been used since Feb. 2, and since Jan. 1, 13 races have been run on the Fair Grounds turf. Friday’s races scheduled for turf were moved to the main track because of a soft course.

But the weather has been sunny since Wednesday, and a dry forecast for the next several days makes it appear possible that the course finally will be used.

Wire Me Bessie, a 4-year-old filly, showed her usual early speed in a five-length rout of fellow Louisiana-breds in the five-furlong Premier Night Matron on Feb. 2 at Delta Downs. In her only other start this year, she led all the way in open company in a 2 1/2-length win against first-level allowance rivals at Fair Grounds in a race switched from turf to dirt.

She has won 5 of 9 career starts, all on dirt, and never finished out of the money. Twice she ran in races carded for turf but moved to the main track. Her pedigree – she’s by Wire Me Collect out of the Grindstone mare Betsy Holly – doesn’t appear turf-oriented. But if Wire Me Collect handles the surface, Smith will have more options for her.

“We did want to run her on the grass,’’ he said. “Every time we entered on grass, the race didn’t go.’’

Palazzo Babe, also a winner in her last two starts, will be a rival Sunday. She ran for the optional $62,500 claiming price in a victory Nov. 30 at this distance on turf, then defeated similar opposition at this distance Dec. 19 when entered under an allowance condition.

“She’s been really honest for us,’’ said trainer Michelle Lovell, who claimed Palazzo Babe for $40,000 last season at Fair Grounds.

Others in the field are Extravaganza, who is 2 for 2 on this course and has been working steadily for her first start since July; Storm’s Promise, who faded to eighth against males in the Champion Energy Services Stakes on Jan. 26 at Sam Houston; Cheerleader, who finished a non-threatening fourth in the Tiffany Lass, won by Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can; and Moonlit Malibu, who finished fourth in the Pan Zareta, a race switched from turf to dirt Jan. 12.