02/16/2008 1:00AM

This horse just loves to run


NEW ORLEANS - Eighteenthofmarch likes to run so much it cost him an extra week of training. When Eighteenthofmarch went against orders and worked five furlongs too fast, trainer Merrill Scherer chose to wait an extra week to run him and entered him in Monday's feature race, the ninth, a third-level optional claimer going 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

"I was going to run him a week ago, but he worked faster than I wanted him to go, so I gave him a slow work," Scherer said. "He ran that fast because he's got a lot of want in him. That's what counts."

The race is scheduled for the turf, although with rain in the forecast, a move to the main track seems probable. Eighteenthofmarch figures strong on either surface.

Eighteenthofmarch came from six lengths back to just get up by a head in his last race, a 1 1/8-mile second-level allowance moved from the turf to a sloppy main track. That race was his first at the Fair Grounds and first with Scherer. If he moves forward, he will be the one to beat on either surface.

"I'm expecting the same results, on or off the turf," Scherer said. "I can't say that I did anything different with him, but he likes the surface down here."

If the race stays on the turf, Wildrally figures to be in the thick of it. He is facing open company after facing the best of the Louisiana-breds, but has won in open company before.

J Be K impresses in return

J Be K surprised no one when he wired a field of five Friday in the slop, coming home five lengths in front as the odds-on favorite.

After setting a track record in his maiden victory at 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga on Aug. 29, J Be K was given five months off and a change of trainers, moving from Bob Baffert's barn to Steve Asmussen's.

In his 3-year-old debut Friday, he led throughout the six-furlong race. With the race won, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan took him in hand to slow him before the race was even finished.

"Shaun said he had gears to him to give you what you want, when you want," Asmussen said. "He's quite the exciting horse, to say the least."

Assmussen said that he plans to stretch J Be K out, although plans for his next race weren't finalized.