12/14/2012 4:31PM

Hawthorne: Geier pair, stuck at home, coupled in feature

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STICKNEY, Ill. – Fair Grounds in New Orleans has started putting up two-turn races for 2-year-olds about to turn 3. Horses who run well in them might get a chance to move on to the 3-year-old stakes series there, which begins in January with the Lecomte. In a normal year, Fordubai and Street Spice, 2-year-old Jim Tafel homebreds trained by Greg Geier, would be part of that Fair Grounds group. But this has been no normal year.

Geier was preparing to make his annual move from Chicago to New Orleans at the onset of the Hawthorne equine herpesvirus outbreak in October. Soon, a quarantine was put in place preventing trainers from moving to traditional winter quarters. Geier, like many others, remains stuck in Chicago, with the Tafel 2-year-olds part of Sunday’s featured third race at Hawthorne instead of Fair Grounds stakes preps.

The two horses, who will race as a coupled entry, both look capable of winning Sunday’s third, which is carded at 1 1/16 miles on dirt and open to first-level allowance runners or $75,000 claimers. Fordubai will be making his dirt debut, but his two-turn turf maiden victory on Nov. 10 was very solid and came in just his second start. And while Fordubai won on grass after debuting on Polytrack, he is bred for dirt: His sire is E Dubai, whose son Fort Larned won the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year, and his dam, Unaffordable, has produced a string of capable main-track performers headed by graded-stakes-class Fast Alex.

Street Spice, by Tafel’s Derby-winning sire Street Sense and out of his graded-stakes-winning mare Allspice, also debuted in an Arlington sprint and won his second start in a Hawthorne route. That came in an off-the-turf race Oct. 20, with Street Spice pressing a moderate pace and drawing away late, but the colt was a touch disappointing coming back to face winners on Nov. 17. Close in the early stages, he dropped away on the far turn and finished sixth. Fordubai has the stronger win and the steadier recent work pattern, and rates an edge on Sunday.

None of the others in the race look as talented. Rail-drawn Kitchi won a two-turn Hawthorne dirt race in his most recent start, but it came against $25,000 maiden-claimers.