01/21/2010 1:00AM

Giant's Tomb multi-surface threat


NEW ORLEANS - Just after the racetrack closed for training mid-morning Wednesday, Fair Grounds general manager Eric Halstrom and racing secretary Jason Boulet stood together next to the fence at the five-eighths pole. Behind them, over downtown New Orleans, dark skies roiled ominously.

"That's our cloud," Halstrom said with a laugh.

Yep, Fair Grounds has already lost more turf races to wet conditions midway through its ongoing meet than it did all of the 2008-2009 season. Another round of rain was passing through New Orleans on Wednesday into early Thursday, and it probably would not take much precipitation for the featured sixth race here Friday to get switched from turf to dirt.

No matter for the morning-line favorite, Giant's Tomb, who will run either way in this entry-level optional $50,000 claimer for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles.

"We need to get going with him," said Hugh Chatman, assistant to trainer Mark Frostad.

Giant's Tomb, who won his maiden by three lengths two starts ago on Nov. 14, has raced five times at Woodbine, with four starts on Polytrack, and one over turf. But Giant's Tomb has a pedigree seemingly versatile in terms of track surface - by Awesome Again and out of a Gone West mare - and Chatman said the colt's Fair Grounds main-track works had been more than adequate.

Pegasus Prancer might prove more competitive on dirt than turf, though his maiden win also came on Polytrack at Arlington. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Pegasus Prancer moved into a quick pace and faded to fifth in his most recent start, a one-turn-mile allowance at Churchill won by Lecomte Stakes-bound Maximus Ruler.

Walking the Beach, who came into the Fair Grounds meet one of the more highly regarded 3-year-old prospects for 2010, but was ninth of 10, beaten more than 12 lengths in his two-turn debut Jan. 3, is entered for the main track only.

As for the turf candidates, Coffee Break - who will be scratched in the event of a rain-off, trainer Neil Howard said - looks as good as anyone. Coffee Break needed four tries to win a maiden race, but he did so with an encouraging stretch rally on Jan. 1 over the Fair Grounds course.

"Typical of an A.P. Indy, it took him a little time," said Howard. "Plus, he's got a real personality. He's a little more on the playful side than he needs to be, but last time, he got it together in the race."