02/03/2010 12:00AM

Juliet's Spirit, stablemate look best


During the month of January, Fair Grounds carded only nine dirt allowance races, and seven of those nine were for entry-level allowance horses. Upper-level allowance spots on dirt have been slow to fill during the meet, and rather extreme measures were required for the featured sixth race to make it onto Friday's nine-race card. That the race went with six entries isn't all that unusual; that four of the six fillies in the race are trained by just two people is.

Trainer Greg Foley has two horses for the race, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint with a couple different allowance conditions and a $62,500 claiming option, but neither She's Extreme nor Valentine Fever looks like a main contender. But the pair from Steve Asmussen's barn, Juliet's Spirit and Ocean Colors, forms the race's backbone.

Juliet's Spirit figures to be both favored and tough to beat Friday, provided she runs back to her most recent performance, a second in the Dec. 19 Esplanade Stakes. Juliet's Spirit lost by more than two lengths that day, but the filly that beat her, She's Our Annie, was among the fastest female sprinters in the Midwest before going down with an injury last month at Oaklawn Park. At 2, Juliet's Spirit won two Woodbine stakes races on Polytrack, but Asmussen said he is molding Juliet's Spirit's late winter and spring campaign around dirt.

"The filly's got a tremendous amount of talent, and I want to establish some consistency with her," Asmussen said. "She was all over the map before."

At her 2009 best, Juliet's Spirit finished third behind Sara Louise in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga.

"Her last race was encouraging," Asmussen said. "The Victory Ride, that's what I want her to get back to."

Ocean Colors, a 4-year-old daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors, scored her third victory in her most recent start, on Jan. 11, when Asmussen chose to leave her in an off-the-turf allowance race.

"I was pretty iffy about it," said Asmussen, adding that Ocean Colors has always been "a quirky little filly."

Juliet's Spirit has speed but settles, while Ocean Colors tends to run straight to the front. The Asmussen fillies may race in tandem near the top of the stretch, but look for Juliet's Spirit to pull away in the final furlong.