Updated on 09/15/2011 1:38PM

Hard to look past Hattiesburg


NEW ORLEANS - The Tom Amoss barn has been hot enough with stakes horses in stakes races. Imagine how the trainer will do with a stakes horse in an allowance race.

Four days after Amoss swept a pair of weekend stakes at Fair Grounds, *, a graded stakes-winning sprinter this season, pops up in the Thursday feature here.

There are no sprint stakes for older fillies and mares at this meet until Feb. 9, so Fair Grounds has carded a $40,000, six-furlong allowance with conditions suitable to stakes-quality fillies and mares - nonwinners of two races since Oct. 20.

In fact, Hattiesburg, who took a Churchill allowance on Nov. 20, is the only one of the six fillies entered to have won even once since Oct. 20. The Churchill win, in which Hattiesburg was an odds-on favorite, was a grinding one, perhaps made more difficult by the fact that the race lacked pace. When nobody went to the lead, Hattiesburg wound up there, and the filly is most comfortable in a stalking or late-running role.

It is her previous efforts this season that make Hattiesburg look so formidable. In October, she finished a good second in Keeneland's Raven Run behind Nasty Storm, who has emerged as one of the sharpest female sprinters in the country. And over the summer, Hattiesburg was a half-length winner of the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup at Calder, a victory that capped a five-race win streak.

Hattiesburg was, as they say, bought well. Owner Nelson Bunker Hunt paid $20,000 for her as a yearling, and this season alone she has banked more than $364,000 while being expertly managed by Amoss. Thursday, she breaks from post 4 under jockey Eddie Martin, who will be chasing the rail horse, Cheryl P., a filly Hattiesburg defeated in the three races they hooked up.

But with a solid comeback race and a sharp recent work under her belt, Cheryl P. could give Hattiesburg a race. Cheryl P., who's owned by Ro Parra and trained by Barry Germany, had a successful run of her own this year, winning three straight races, including consecutive stakes scores at Oaklawn. Her form tailed off over the summer and Cheryl P. got a break from racing between mid-July and Dec. 1, when she returned here in the Leggio Handicap, her turf debut, finishing third behind Hallowed Dreams after setting the early pace.

* also merits consideration in this spot, though she put in a disappointing effort in the Leggio. The 3-year-old Serena's Tune, who carried around a lofty reputation last spring, was molded into a turf horses this summer, but won her maiden on dirt and worked well over the Fair Grounds main track before the Leggio.

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