03/16/2010 12:00AM

Heavenly Chorus just may be vulnerable


NEW ORLEANS - Wednesday is normally a Fair Grounds dark day, but the track hosts a special St. Patrick's Day card this week, with race 5, a second-level allowance race also open to $40,000 claimers, serving as the feature. Carded at six furlongs, the race drew just six entries, and thus is positioned early on the program.

The race hinges on a horse named Heavenly Chorus, and his ability to run back to a sharp last-out victory, on Feb. 20. Part of race 1 on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, Heavenly Chorus stalked a suicidal early pace, took over in midstretch, and went on to a 5 1/4-length victory. His six-furlong time was 1:09.53, good for a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. But it might be rash to take the figure at face value. The Fair Grounds track that afternoon started out producing sizzling times, as it had during morning training. Then, a few dirt races in, times slowed considerably.

Heavenly Chorus raced with blinkers added last time, which may have helped, and trainer Steve Asmussen does bump him up to a $40,000 claiming price Wednesday.

But the pick still is Handleman. Handleman exits an entry-level allowance victory and appears to be an improving horse. He is seasoned enough to successfully climb the next step on the allowance ladder.

Devils Humor some consolation

Saturday produced little joy for the Asmussen barn at Fair Grounds, with Rachel Alexandra losing her first start of 2010 in the New Orleans Ladies. But there was at least one bright spot that afternoon, and her name is Devils Humor.

A 3-year-old filly, Devils Humor, debuted in the fourth race Saturday, and bettors made her the 8-5 favorite, with good reason. Breaking sharply under Shaun Bridgmohan, Devils Humor contested the early lead while going comfortably, opened a clear advantage into the far turn, and drew away through the stretch run while ridden out to a five-length victory. She was timed in a quick 1:10.25, and given a Beyer Figure of 90 for the sharp win.

By Distorted Humor, Devils Humor is a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred out of the mare Fleet Renee, who won a pair of Grade 1's, the Mother Goose and the Ashland, during her racing career.