02/17/2011 3:37PM

Margolis has all bases covered in Colonel Power

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Before all the graded action gets under way Saturday at Fair Grounds, a pair of longstanding $60,000 sprints will whet the stakes appetite for horseplayers of the New Orleans track.

The first of six stakes on the 12-race card is the Colonel Power (race 4), a 5 1/2-furlong turf race for older males, followed in quick order by the Pan Zareta (race 5) for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

The biggest name in the Colonel Power is the classy Cash Refund, but trainer Steve Margolis has said he will run only in case the race has to be transferred to the main track. Staying on the turf would leave Margolis a top contender nonetheless in Due Date, who used his strong stretch run to capture the Dec. 18 Bonapaw over this same course in his last start.

“We’ve kind of waited for this race since he ran so big in the Bonapaw, and everything’s gone well,” said Margolis, who continues to enjoy a terrific Fair Grounds meet. “He’s coming into the race in great shape. I’m really happy with how he’s training.”

Other possibilities in the Colonel Power, assuming the race stays on grass, include Delano and Southern Region.

In the Pan Zareta, trainer Jeff Thornbury also has entered a pair but said he is more likely to lead over Wild About Marie while leaving Eagle Putt in the barn. Both fillies are entered off Fair Grounds wins, with Wild About Marie now switching from turf to dirt.

“She’s been a pleasant surprise the whole way,” said Thornbury. “Each race she seems to have gotten better in her numbers and all. She’s very versatile and doesn’t seem to have a preferred surface.”

Easily the wild card of the Pan Zareta is Beautician, who has earned nearly $600,000 from 15 career starts while remaining eligible for a second-level allowance condition. The 4-year-old Beautician will make her seasonal debut off a series of sharp workouts at Gulfstream Park.

Beautician, with Julien Leparoux to ride from the outside post, has not raced at such a short distance since very early in her career.

Two fillies drawn inside, Moontune Missy and Simplify, also figure well with top efforts.