03/25/2010 11:00PM

Jody Slew likely for Fair Grounds Oaks


NEW ORLEANS - Jody Slew gave out encouraging signs to trainer Bret Calhoun during her training session on Thursday morning at Fair Grounds, so Calhoun said he was "planning on running" Jody Slew in the Grade 2, $300,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Friday.

"She looked good," Calhoun said Thursday. "If it's status quo tomorrow, we plan on running. I'm glad I got to see what I did today. I feel much better than I did four or five days ago."

Jody's Slew's status for the race has been in question for the past week, owing to muscle soreness that has caused anxious moments for Calhoun.

"She's still on as of right now," Calhoun had said Wednesday morning. "We're going to evaluate her after she trains on Thursday, and then make a call on it after that. It's nothing major. This would be an easier decision if it was something major. She's bruised up some. Is she 100 percent? No. It's a tough call. It's a great race for her. It's really hard to pass. We're trying to decide if she's good enough. She's had muscle soreness since getting cast in her stall."

If she runs, there will be doubts as to whether Jody Slew can repeat the quality of her victories in the Tiffany Lass and Grade 3 Silverbulletday earlier this meet. If there is a setback overnight and she does not run, that removes from the Fair Grounds Oaks one of the leading contenders in what shapes up as a wide-open prep for the April 30 Kentucky Oaks.

Rachel Alexandra won both the Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks last year.

The Fair Grounds Oaks, at 1 1/16 miles, drew 10 other 3-year-old fillies. It is the ninth race on a 10-race card that includes three other stakes and begins at 1:10 p.m. Central. The Oaks in past years had been part of the Louisiana Derby card, to be run on Saturday, but by moving it up a day, the weekend racing here approximates that of Churchill Downs in five weeks, where the Kentucky Oaks precedes the Derby by one day. Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs.

Because of the questions surrounding Jody Slew, she is the third choice, at 5-1, on the morning line set by Mike Diliberto of Fair Grounds. Ailalea is the tepid 3-1 favorite, but she is marooned in the outside post, has never been around two turns, and is coming off a disappointing comeback effort in the Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream two months ago. Last fall, though, she won the Tempted Stakes, so she has quality.

Like Ailalea, Mambo Fever ships in from Florida, where she was a distant third in the Davona Dale in her last start. She finished second in the Tempted last fall. This will be her first try around two turns, too.

The biggest beneficiary of the compromised nature of Jody Slew could be Quiet Temper, who lost a nose decision to Jody Slew in the Silverbulletday. That atoned for a poor try as the odds-on favorite in the Tiffany Lass. Quiet Temper benefitted by drawing the rail Friday.

There should be ample support for Visavis, who has run two sharp races this meet and comes off a fast victory in a first-level allowance. Visavis, a daughter of Indian Charlie, has yet to race beyond six furlongs, but her trainer, Steve Margolis, believes she can handle the extra distance.

"She's a big filly with a lot of leg," Margolis said Wednesday morning at his Fair Grounds barn. "She looks and acts like she'll handle two turns. This is a good time to try her going long."

The pace should be legitimate, helped by Champagne d'Oro, who will have to go from post 10. She returned from a 3 1/2-month layoff to score a front-running win against maidens going six furlongs on Feb. 20. Last year, while still a maiden, she made four of her six starts in stakes, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, in which she finished last of 12.

"She's worked so good the last two works. Breezing, not asking," said her trainer, Eric Guillot. "I just don't know if she can route. We don't know from the Breeders' Cup. She pulled a stifle. She hasn't routed fair and square. But she's a runner."

Correction:An earlier version of this article misstated the Fair Grounds linemaker. He is Mike Diliberto, not Billy Pettingill.