11/06/2009 12:00AM

Much Obliged overcomes all


NEW ORLEANS - The pacesetters in the Blushing K.D. went extremely slow, while Much Obliged raced toward the back of the field. When Much Obliged launched her rally, she came into the stretch at least eight paths off the fence. Much was against Much Obliged, but that didn't stop her from scoring a half-length victory as the odds-on favorite in the $60,000 Blushing K.D. on Friday, opening day at Fair Grounds.

Much Obliged kind of merited a handicap. In her most recent start, she had finished right behind 2008 champion turf mare Forever Together at Woodbine. Her trainer, Malcolm Pierce, had targeted a richer race than the Blushing K.D., but scratched Much Obliged because of wet course conditions. So, Pierce brought the 4-year-old filly to Fair Grounds with his first group of horses here for the winter, stuck her in the Blushing K.D., and got the victory for owner-breeder Pin Oak Farm. Much Obliged now has won all three of her starts over the Fair Grounds grass course.

Slow fractions are the norm on the Fair Grounds turf, and the Blushing K.D. had them, with Ruling Class leading Martin's Bay through an opening quarter-mile in 25.17 seconds and a half in 51.10. Those two wound up nowhere. Meanwhile, Cisco Torres started to move up on Much Obliged about three furlongs out, and they slipped inside Final Refrain turning for home - inside being a relative term. Much Obliged was way out in the middle of the course, but finished willingly, getting up over Never Retreat, who saved ground throughout.

Much Obliged, timed in 1:45.79 for 1 1/16 miles, paid $3.40 to win. Category Seven held on for third over Final Refrain.