03/24/2009 11:00PM

Montano has Geniver in top form


NEW ORLEANS - When Angel Montano and his ownership team, also known as his sons and son-in-law, claimed Geniver for $16,000 in May of 2008, she was already 7 years old, and gave no indication that her best days were still ahead.

But in the 10 races Geniver has run for Montano, she has finished first four times and been out of the money only twice, earning herself a spot in Friday's feature race at Fair Grounds, a second-level allowance with a $40,000 claiming option. The race, for fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, has attracted a field of 12, including one main-track-only entrant.

Although Geniver finished 2008 in sharp form, it wasn't until 2009 that Montano ran her on the turf for the first time, and the result was another move forward. In her first turf sprint for Montano she finished second. She followed it up with an impressive victory in a first-level allowance on Feb. 1.

"The owners - my sons - they told me to try her on the turf,' said Montano. "Joey, my son, he's always digging things up, and we had never run her on grass, so we put her on grass and she ran big."

In her last race, faced Dubai Majesty over the main track, and she ran well enough for second, three lengths behind Dubai Majesty and 2 1/2 lengths in front of third-place finisher Nadeshiko, who returns Friday as well.

"She hooked a bear last time," said Montano. "She's been a real good claim, and I am going to keep going with her."

One of Geniver's top challengers will be Nadeshiko, who has gotten the better of Geniver once in their three meetings, coming home a winner at 24-1 over the Fair Grounds main track on Dec. 20. Nadeshiko followed her victory with a tiring seventh-place effort over the turf. She would benefit if the race were moved to the main track.

Star Over Malibu is coming back off a seven-month layoff. She is entered for the claiming price even though she fits the allowance condition.

Tom Amoss claimed her for $32,500 three races ago, and she finished third and second before going to the shelf.

"She got a little funny in the way she was going," said Amoss. "She needed time."

Star Over Malibu has never run over the turf, but she has shown promise on synthetic tracks, finishing in the money in seven of eight synthetic races.