02/02/2008 1:00AM

Kindling alters tactics for rematch


NEW ORLEANS - Two horses appear to stand out in Monday's featured ninth race at Fair Grounds. Unfortunately, Bewitching Miss and Kindling look evenly matched, and it appears to be a toss up which one will take the $50,000 optional claiming race at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Bewitching Miss and Kindling have met twice previously, with Kindling getting the better of Bewitching Miss both times. In their last meeting, in the Leggio Memorial Stakes on Jan. 12, Kindling beat Bewitching Miss by a neck for third place.

On Dec. 6, they met in a third-level allowance, and Kindling turned in a game effort, finishing second by a half-length. Bewitching Miss was three lengths back, in ninth place.

Though Kindling finished third in the Leggio, trainer Merrill Scherer said he believes his instructions to jockey Jesus Castanon cost her the race.

"I told him to stay too close last time out, and she didn't have a kick," said Scherer. "She was too close too soon."

Since the Leggio, Scherer has revised his strategy, saying that he will ask that Kindling be placed a little farther back, hopefully leaving a little more in the tank for her final kick.

Scherer said he has worked Kindling a half-mile since the Leggio, even though her past performances don't show any works.

"They didn't catch it, but I worked her in 48 flat on January 28," he said.

Since finishing ninth three races ago, Bewitching Miss has been run well, winning a $50,000 claiming race by two lengths and finishing a close fourth last time out in the Leggio.

"She's fun because she tries hard every time," said Gail Bigelow, one of Bewitching Miss's owners, and wife of trainer Carl Bigelow.

Bewitching Miss has been with the Bigelows since they bought her as a 2-year-old for $13,000. Four years and 31 races later, they have a great appreciation for their mare.

"With age, she's relaxed more all the time," said Bigelow. "Now she's relaxing quite a ways off the pace."

Bewitching Miss will likely be relaxing behind the pace set by Simply Run, a filly she overtook in her last victory on Dec. 24. Simply Run was claimed in that race, and her new trainer, Tom Amoss, wins with 25 percent of his recently claimed runners.