01/17/2013 2:18PM

Fair Grounds: Trail to Fair Grounds Oaks begins with Silverbulletday

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Golden Rod winner Seaneen Girl and runner-up Gal About Town will clash again in the Silverbulletday Stakes.

NEW ORLEANS – In recent years, Fair Grounds has established itself as a place to bring a developing filly.

Last year, Believe You Can, trained by Larry Jones, became the seventh filly in the last 15 runnings of the Fair Grounds Oaks to also win the Kentucky Oaks.

“I don’t know why it would be any different for a girl than a boy,” Jones said of the track’s remarkable run with 3-year-old fillies. “There’s no rhyme or reason for it. Maybe it’s just the luck of the draw.”

On Saturday, 11 3-year-old fillies will be racing in the Silverbulletday, the first two-turn stakes prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks. A victory in the mile-and-70-yard Silverbulletday jump-started Believe You Can’s 2012 season and put her en route to Kentucky.

People affiliated with fillies in this group are hopeful about making the same trip.

Trainer Bernie Flint said he has such aspirations for Seaneen Girl, who began her career in claiming company but closed her 2012 season with a victory in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod on Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs. The race was her first under Flint, who in October traveled to Woodbine to get a look at the filly before completing a purchase by owner Naveed Chowdon. Her first five starts, capped by a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Mazarine, were for trainer Robert Tiller on the synthetic surface at Woodbine, but Flint said he had only dirt in mind for her.

“Any time you buy one, you’re taking a chance,” Flint said. “She’s grown a lot. Hopefully, she’s developing more. She’s a good little filly. She’s got a lot of heart.”

Gal About Town will get another crack at Seaneen Girl in the Silverbulletday. In the Golden Rod, Gal About Town had the lead in the stretch before finishing second, a half-length behind Seaneen Girl. In the Grade 2 Pocahontas, a mile race at Churchill, Gal About Town led in midstretch before finishing second, four lengths behind Sign.

“What would help us the most is a little bit more pace in there,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains Gal About Town, a daughter of City Zip. “That’s been one of the problems her last few races. There wasn’t a lot of pace in there. She’s a filly that kind of needs a target. Last time, she inherited the lead before the quarter pole.”

Another graded-placed filly in the field is Touch Magic, coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Delta Princess on Nov. 17 at Delta Downs. Formerly based at Calder, Touch Magic, a Lion Heart filly, moved to Louisiana when purchased last month by Coteau Grove Farms.

“She doesn’t do anything wrong,” said Pat Devereux, who took over from Antonio Sano as trainer. “She’s a lovely filly. We have distance concerns. We hope she’ll stretch out.”

Yet another filly with graded credentials is Every Way, who finished third in the Mazarine, a head behind Seaneen Girl. A City Zip filly trained by Mike Stidham, Every Way won a two-turn allowance race on turf in her Fair Grounds debut and will be racing on dirt for the first time.

Finding More, Irish Lute, and Brotherhood Singer – who finished 1-2-3 in the six-furlong Letellier on Dec. 22 – are Silverbulletday entrants trying two turns for the first time. Finding More, trained by Kellyn Gorder, is on a three-race winning streak.

Jones, who also pulled off the Fair Grounds Oaks-Kentucky Oaks double with Proud Spell in 2008, is running Smitten in the Silverbulletday. Smitten made a solid late run to defeat maidens at this distance Dec. 16.