02/23/2011 1:02PM

Harbor Fox looks to back up debut victory at Fair Grounds


It’s not all that often that a horse wins as the favorite when making its career debut in a two-turn race. There are a number of promising things to be inferred from such a scenario, and trainer Mike Stidham is hoping the Jan. 30 victory at Fair Grounds by a 3-year-old filly named Harbor Fox portends some of those.

“Her works were good, and we felt like the way she was doing it, and looking at her pedigree, there wasn’t any reason to sprint her first time out,” Stidham said. “We thought she’d be sitting in a good spot going long, and we felt like we had enough work in her.”

Harbor Fox, owned by the Fox Hill Farms of Rick Porter, was prominent throughout when scoring by a length as the 6-5 choice in that maiden voyage last month. On Friday, the Rockport Harbor filly will make her second start at Fair Grounds in New Orleans in the feature race. The distance of a mile and 70 yards remains the same, but instead of facing nonwinners, she steps up into first-level allowance company.

“I think she’s a real talented filly,” Stidham said. “She has a real good mind, and I think she’s got a future. Ever since we got her down here late last year, she’s been doing good things. We’re going to take things one race at a time with her, but if she happens to run a big race Friday, absolutely, we’ll start looking at some of the bigger 3-year-old filly races for her, either here or at Oaklawn Park.”

Six other fillies will break to the inside of Harbor Fox when she leaves from the outside post under leading jockey Rosie Napravnik in the eighth of 10 Friday races. First post is 12:40 p.m. Central.

Probably the top challengers are Switching Gears, a twice-beaten favorite since winning a Churchill Downs maiden race in November; St. John’s River, also a last-out maiden winner around two turns; and Suave Voir Faire, a graded stakes-placed filly adding blinkers Friday.

◗ The Saturday feature at Fair Grounds, the $60,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial, drew 10 fillies and mares and goes as the eighth of 10 races. Two Louisiana-bred stakes, the Sarah Lane’s Oates and the Gentilly, also are on tap.