01/06/2007 12:00AM

Four-allowance card looks tempting


NEW ORLEANS - With the nation's other major tracks dark, Fair Grounds has the opportunity to dominate Monday's simulcast betting. To that end, the track has carded four allowance races, two for turf runners.

The main event, a second-level allowance for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, has attracted an interesting field headed by Venitienne, a 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Giant's Causeway who began her career in France, where she won her maiden race at Saint-Cloud over a soft turf course. She came to the United States last year under the care of trainer Christophe Clement, who sent her out to win an entry-level allowance race at Suffolk Downs in her second U.S. start on July 10. She has since been purchased by the Russell L. Reineman stable and is now being trained by Anthony Mitchell.

"It looks like she struggled a little bit to break her maiden in France, for whatever reason," said Mitchell. "We've done a little bit of work on her hind end, and she's been training very well since she got to the Fair Grounds. We're hoping for a big run from her."

Unfortunately, the forecast is for rain, and if the race comes off the turf Venitienne is a likely scratch.

"I don't think we'll run her if it comes off," said Mitchell, "I really wouldn't want to. She's been on an off track before and doesn't really seem to handle it very well. We're really looking for turf for her."

Another Irish-bred, Leonor Fini, who has never raced on dirt, and Provocative Touch also appear to be likely defectors if the race comes off the grass.

Scarlet Butterfly, who won her last race impressively on the Fair Grounds turf, has done most of her racing on grass but won her maiden in a race that came off the turf. Mudder Mary has won both on grass and in an off-the-turf event. Kindling is another versatile sort who has won on both surfaces.

If the race is switched to dirt, the speedy Seven Anns should be a serious pace factor. She led most of the way before settling for second in the $40,000 Sam Houston Oaks last March. Superb Ravi, who won an off-the-turf race in the slop at Fair Grounds in her last start, seems likely to sit right off the pace, while Looks Lucky should be running late in her first start since October 2005.