01/23/2009 1:00AM

Jazz Quest may need a race

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NEW ORLEANS - It has been more than seven months since Jazz Quest last raced, but if he is fit, he will be tough to beat over a Fair Grounds turf course that he clearly likes.

The fitness question, however, remains a big if.

Jazz Quest, 5, has been in the money in seven of eight trips over the Fair Grounds turf. His only out of the money finish was a fifth-place trip in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Handicap last March.

He will try to add to further improve his local record in Sunday's ninth race, a third-level optional $62,500 claimer scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

After finishing seventh in the Dallas Turf Cup on May 26 at Lone Star Park, Jazz Quest was given extended time off.

"He had a tough campaign, and his last couple of races were not up to par," said trainer Tom Amoss, "So we gave him his first vacation."

Off for seven months, and with only one work in preparation for this race, Amoss is concerned that Jazz Quest may not be fully conditioned.

"Like a lot of horses that have had this much time off, we go into the race in a bit of a gray area as to where he is in terms of fitness," said Amoss. "However he runs in this race, we are expecting him to run better next time."

Considering Jazz Quest may need a race, it might be wise to search for other horses whose style fits the local turf course's profile, which favors closers.

If his last two races are any indication, Get Rich Quick may have finally put it all together. Second two races ago, on Nov. 20 at Woodbine, Get Rich Quick was impressive in his last outing, a 2 3/4-length victory going 1 1/16 miles here on Dec. 26.

"He's always had a lot of talent, but he just came around in the fall," said trainer Malcolm Pierce. "He's been a little bit of an underachiever, but maybe now that he's a 5-year-old he'll put it all together and win a few in a row."

Cirque Du Soleil raced forwardly and then tired badly in his first start after a year-long layoff.

"Being his first start back he was going to be a little rank," said Mike Kaetzel, assistant trainer to Bill Mott. "Training him, you just try to get him to go slow, and then pick it up, otherwise there is nothing left at the end."