03/05/2009 12:00AM

Grasshopper tries grass in Lacombe


The winner of the 2008 Allen Lacombe Memorial Handicap, Storm Treasure, is back for the race again Saturday - back, but hardly a standout in a bulky, scattershot field for the one-mile grass race.

The $60,000 Lacombe drew a a wildly divergent group of 12. One sees Recapturetheglory, the 2008 Illinois Derby winner who never has won on turf and has been entered back in a Sunday dirt race. There's Get Rich Quick, a two-time turf winner at the meet for trainer Malcolm Pierce. And Antrim County raced for a $7,500 claiming tag not all that long ago, but has a decent shot in the Lacombe based on a turf allowance win earlier this meet.

The most recognizable name, however, is Grasshopper, the talented graded stakes winner who will make his turf debut in the Lacombe. Trainer Neil Howard confirmed Thursday that Grasshopper wasn't just entered hoping for a rain-off onto dirt, and that he and Grasshopper's owners had contemplated a turf experiment in the past.

Now might be a good time. Grasshopper was a disappointing seventh in the Feb. 7 Mineshaft, a race he impressively won last year. Off that race, his first since August, Howard said that "we were looking to run him back in something other than the New Orleans Handicap."

Said Howard, "If he ran well on turf, it would open up some other doors for him."

While Grasshopper's connections came into 2009 with the New Orleans Handicap at least in the back of their minds, Get Rich Quick has been pointed to the Lacombe by trainer Malcolm Pierce since just after he won a third-level turf allowance race on Jan. 25, giving him three wins from six Fair Grounds turf races. Pierce said in early February that he intended to bring the good turf horse Sterwins back in a late February allowance race while saving the Lacombe for Get Rich Quick.

Storm Treasure, from Steve Asmussen's barn, upset the Lacombe at 9-1 last year, but figures to be a shorter price this time. Storm Treasure has been sprinting since late last summer, but has raced effectively at two-turn trips in the past.

Six-year-old Antrim County was claimed for $50,000 at the Churchill Downs fall meet, and has a chance to rebound Saturday after a pair of recent losses at Oaklawn Park. Starting on the Fair Grounds turf course in December, Antrim County scored a game victory over Gentleman Chester, a turf horse of listed-stakes quality.