01/19/2012 1:36PM

Fair Grounds: Weather will tell Pan Zareta story

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Wild About Marie, with Robby Albarado riding, wins the Franklin County.

Probably the most important question regarding the $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes is this: Will it or not? Will the rain come hard enough to force the 5 1/2-furlong race off the turf and onto the main track?

“If it does, we won’t run,” said Jeff Thornbury, who would seem to have the horse to beat in Wild About Marie if the Pan Zareta stays on the grass Saturday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

With a rain forecast of about 60 percent, any speculation about how Wild About Marie will fare is premature. Nonetheless, “if we get lucky and they let it stay, obviously we’re hoping our mare can stay undefeated on this grass course,” said Thornbury, who has sent out Florida-bred Wild About Marie to a 4-for-4 record over the local course for Ike and Dawn Thrash. “She’s been a real pleasure for us.”

In all, 13 fillies and mares are entered in the 47th Pan Zareta, which directly precedes the featured Lecomte Stakes as the 10th of 13 races on the “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” program. Clearly a surface transfer would cut into those numbers, with perhaps Starlite Starbrite, Sharp Tongue Lady, and Gran Lioness rating the best chances over a wet main track.

On grass, the main challenger to Wild About Marie might be Flash Mash, a 4-year-old filly entered off back-to-back victories in turf-sprint allowances at the current Fair Grounds meet for jockey Robby Albarado and trainer Mike Stidham.

Interestingly, Albarado committed in this spot to Wild About Marie, with Jamie Theriot picking up the mount on Flash Mash. “That doesn’t always mean you’ve got the better horse, but in general, it’s a pretty good sign,” noted Thornbury.

One starter of note on either surface is Inspired, an East Coast shipper with John Velazquez named to ride from the far outside post. The 5-year-old mare seems versatile enough to contend on either surface.

Pan Zareta S., Post Time: 4:25 CT Saturday

Purse: $75,000; 5 1/2 furlongs (T)

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Seeking Ms. Shelley

J. Duhon

C. McMahahon

10-1

1

Mullins Beach

J. Carroll

S. Sellers

6-1

1

Starlite Starbrite

T. Amoss

J. Graham

6-1

1

Well Deserved

S. Asmussen

S. Bridgemohan

15-1

1

Wild About Marie

J. Thornbury

R. Albarado

4-1

1

Beyondallboundarys

L. Roussel, III

T. Thornton

20-1

1

Born Indy U S A

J. Sadler

J. Rosario

15-1

1

Dr. Diamonds Prize

M. Hubley

M. Mena

20-1

1

Sharp Tongue Lady

A. Stall, Jr.

J. Riquelme

15-1

1

Flash Mash

M. Stidham

J. Theriot

8-1

1

Rapport

R. Werner

B. Hernandez Jr.

5-1

1

Gran Lioness

W. Calhoun

R. Napravnik

10-1

1

Inspired

A. Iwinski

J. Velazquez.

10-1