02/09/2011 3:07PM

Howard ready rain or shine in Fair Grounds allowance


There will be a sharing of wealth Friday afternoon at Fair Grounds, if not necessarily among all horseplayers, then certainly among many horsemen. Half of a 10-race card at the New Orleans is comprised of allowances, including two for Louisiana-breds, with more than $200,000 in purse money being offered in those races alone.

Perhaps the most meaningful on a program that beings at 12:40 p.m. Central is the seventh race, a first-level turf allowance for 3-year-olds going about 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Neil Howard, who continues to enjoy an exceptional Fair Grounds meet, seems to have his bases covered with the uncoupled duo of Close Ally and Prime Cut, the latter of whom is designated a “main track only” entrant.

Ironically, it was Close Ally who won his only career start by capturing a race that was moved from the turf to the main track on Jan. 20. Close Ally, with Anna Napravnik to ride, was assigned post 1 in a field that will number no more than eight, considering Prime Cut, who would start from the outside post, will start only in case of a surface switch. Under such a scenario, Prime Cut surely would merit high consideration following a pair of sharp sprint efforts on the dirt this meet.

In the other Friday allowances:

◗ Race 8: This is the most competitive-looking race of the bunch, with maybe Loquacious, Unbridled’s Heart, and Chef Eric rating top billing among the 10 older turf runners going a mile and 70 yards.

◗ Race 5: Scintillation (post 2, Miguel Mena) might be tough to deny this time around after being narrowly beaten Jan. 15 in this same type of turf sprint for open fillies and mares.

◗ Race 3: Jet Set Dot (post 2, Shaun Bridgmohan) has gone 2 for 2 in claiming races and appears set to go through her first allowance condition when facing five other Louisiana-bred filly sprinters.

◗ Race 2: Tortuga Town (post 9, Bridgmohan) could be a solid choice after having finished just a neck back when second versus this same type of statebred turf mares earlier in the meet.

On Saturday at Fair Grounds, the featured ninth race will be the $60,000 Pelleteri, a main-track route that drew eight fillies and mares, including Ravi’s Song, Third Dawn, and Avie’s Tale.