02/24/2007 1:00AM

J'ray closes fast in Bayou


J'ray cruised to an easy victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Ridden with confidence by Robby Albarado, J'ray sat in fourth position behind pacesetter Candy Ball, who crawled through a 50.35-second half-mile with Cat Alert pressing her on the outside.

"She got in a great spot," said Albarado. "She was able to relax in a good position. When I called on her, she overpowered the speed."

Albarado waited until the turn to ask J'ray for run, then angled her out for the drive and they flew past the leaders for a 4 3/4-length victory.

"Everything went well," said Anthony Tamburino, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "She shipped in a van from Palm Meadows because we couldn't get a plane for her. I was just hoping it wouldn't rain because that would have screwed everything up."

Scarlet Butterfly rallied resolutely through the stretch to edge Candy Ball for place by a nose.

"When a couple of those others dropped out I thought we were going for a piece of it," said Scarlet Butterfly's trainer, Mark Frostad. "I thought she ran great."

My Three Sisters was another three lengths back in fourth.

J'ray ($3.40) covered the 1 1/8 miles over the turf in 1:52.44.