11/27/2007 1:00AM

Fathers battle sons on the turf

EmailNEW ORLEANS - Thursday's feature race offers two father and son trainer matchups, with the duos of Morris and Ralph Nicks and Merrill and Richard Scherer competing in the ninth race, a second-level allowance for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Merrill and Richard Scherer enter horses coming off victories. Father Merrill, 68, sends Queen of the Ridge, and son Richard, 44, sends Penelope Wonders.

"I want to win," said Richard Scherer. "It's always fun to take a jab at each other."

Penelope Wonders won a one-mile entry-level allowance on the Hawthorne turf last out. "We've tried her on the Polytrack, we've tried her in the slop," said Richard Scherer. "She's strictly turf."

Merrill Scherer said: "We run a lot against each other down here at the Fair Grounds. If I don't win, I'd like him to. But there's no helping each other."

Last out, Queen of the Ridge won a five-furlong turf sprint for a $50,000 tag at Churchill. Merrill Scherer said that the 1 1/16 miles of Thursday's race is a bit too long for Queen of the Ridge, and that he was likely to scratch her.

Ralph Nicks saddles Gone Overboard and his father, Morris, sends Rose of Geri.

Gone Overboard is likely to attract much of the betting action, especially if trainer Al Stall Jr. carries through on plans to scratch the morning-line favorite Block, who finished sixth in last Saturday's Pago Hop.

Exiting a victory in her last race, a first-level allowance at Churchill, Gone Overboard figures to be closing fast.

"This is the first time we've ever got her back without having issues in between," Ralph Nicks said. "Hopefully, that will be a plus."

Trainer Michael Stidham, who won with 3 of his 6 starters on opening weekend, has two entries, Cat Hop and Polysheba, and both are likely to get stalking trips.

"They have similar styles," Stidham said. "They sit off, then come running. Cat Hop needed the last race, ran a good third. And Polysheba's in good form right now."

The wild card in the race is North American newcomer Spontaneous.

"I don't know a lot about her, except she's training good," said trainer Bernie Flint. "She's a Chilean Grade 1 winner."