01/21/2009 12:00AM

Late bloomer takes to course

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NEW ORLEANS - A first-level allowance for older horses isn't usually the place to look for blossoming Thoroughbreds, but Friday's ninth race at Fair Grounds has more than its share of entrants who may still turn into quality racehorses.

Carded at about a mile on the turf for a purse of $44,000, the race has a field nine, and three of them look to be moving in the right direction.

After finally winning his maiden last month at age 4 and in his seventh race, Rainbows Arch comes back to the same turf course and distance.

Rainbows Arch's victory came in his first race for trainer Richie Scherer, who believes the horse has the pedigree and talent to emerge as a nice older horse.

"I thought he ran fantastic last time and I think he's up for a better effort," Scherer said. "He's a late bloomer, but he's got credentials to be a nice turf horse, and I think he takes to the Fair Grounds turf course."

Rainbows Arch's pedigree does point to possibilities. He is a half-brother to Cloudy's Knight, who won the Grade 1 Canadian International in 2007, the year he won a Sovereign Award as outstanding male turf horse in Canada. Perhaps more significantly, Cloudy's Knight finished second in the Grade 2 Muniz Handicap over the Fair Grounds turf.

House of Silver also took his time to win his maiden, finally getting up for first in his sixth race, which came at Hollywood Park in January 2008. House of Silver went to the shelf for six months after that, recuperating from having a chip removed from his ankle.

In his first race back, on Dec. 19 at Fair Grounds, he proved that he has healed well, nearly wiring the field in a 1 1/16-mile allowance over the turf. He finished a clear second that day behind Diamond Tycoon, who returned to win another allowance race in his next start

House of Silver will benefit from that race and the shorter distance of this race.

"You're never as fit the first time off a layoff as you are the second time," trainer Wallace Dollase said. "He actually really likes the surface down here, but we've also got to get lucky and get a trip."

While Rainbows Arch and House of Silver were slow to win for the first time, Naturalyontherocks was precocious, winning in his first attempt. That race was six furlongs at Woodbine on Nov. 8, and he came from off the pace to win. Trainer Malcolm Pierce thought enough of him to skip allowance conditions and entered him in the Woodchopper here Dec. 20, where he finished fifth after weakening late.

Having had that race, he may hang on better in this entry-level allowance.