12/04/2012 4:10PM

Fair Grounds: Too Clever By Half brings three-race winning streak into local debut

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Hugh McMahon oversaw the Maryland branch of the far-flung Scott Lake powerhouse stable for seven years while having horses run in his own name on occasion. The 43-year-old Englishman went solo in 2010 and quickly became a force in Maryland and surrounding states, illustrated by the fact he has sent out 137 winners in 2012.

McMahon sought a winter base for some of the grass specialists that habituate his 60-horse stable and decided to give Fair Grounds a try for the first time.

“We’d gotten about seven or eight horses for David Ross as a new owner this spring and were wondering what to do over the winter, since there’s no grass racing around here during that time,” McMahon said early this week from Maryland. “We’ll have about 12 down there all winter.”

One of those turfers is a 4-year-old filly named Too Clever by Half, who enters the Thursday feature at Fair Grounds on a three-race win streak. Those triumphs came in quick order this summer over the Colonial Downs turf, after which McMahon noticed something wasn’t just right.

“She was off in behind after her last race” on July 7, said McMahon, “and we couldn’t figure it out. We thought maybe it was a tibia fracture but never knew for sure. We just turned her out for a time and brought her back after she started going sound again.”

Too Clever by Half is one of nine fillies and mares, including one “main track only” designee, entered in the seventh of nine Thursday races at the New Orleans track, where first post is 12:40 p.m. Central. The $49,000, second-level allowance is scheduled for 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Leandro Goncalves will have the mount on Too Clever by Half when the Florida-bred filly breaks from post 8 in her first start in five months.

“Honestly, I think she may need the race, but she is a nice filly,” said McMahon. “She is all right.”

Other notables in the field include Dijarvo (post 3, Miguel Mena), making her first start since shipping to New Orleans from Southern California, and Snow Kissed (post 7, Rosie Napravnik), a consistent gray mare with 3 wins and 5 seconds from 11 career starts.

A solid Thursday card also includes a $41,000, first-level, main-track allowance sprint for Louisiana-breds (race 2) and a pair of interesting starter-allowances slated for turf (races 4 and 9).