12/17/2009 12:00AM

My Jen should take to Fair Grounds main track


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After a relatively quiet weekend of stakes races last week, some serious stakes action is back Saturday, nowhere more so than at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where nine stakes races are carded.

There is quality and action aplenty - with stakes races for babies, turf horses, and Louisiana-breds, you name it. Best yet, most of the races offer full fields, giving horseplayers a chance to shoot for some nice-sized payoffs.

The two races there that caught my eye the most were the $50,000 Letellier Memorial and $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint.

In the Letellier, a six-furlong dash on dirt for 2-year-old fillies, my play is a filly who has never raced on the dirt - the unbeaten My Jen. I'm hopeful this inexperience will cause some horseplayers to balk at the prospect of backing her, creating a respectable price.

Though both of her races have come on Polytrack, first at Turfway Park and later at Keeneland, she gives the impression she should handle the dirt as effectively as she did a synthetic track.

Unlike some top synthetic performers, she is bred more for dirt than turf or synthetic. She is a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus out of a Holy Bull mare who was unplaced in her only start on grass.

Further adding to her appeal is her draw in post 9 in the 10-horse field. She is outside most of the speed, which should allow jockey Jamie Theriot to track the other speed to her inside and place her in a comfortable stalking position.

Theriot already knows that she can rate and win. He has ridden her in her two starts, including when she won at Keeneland on Oct. 22 after sitting just off a loose-on-the-lead runner.

As for her not having raced since Oct. 22, that is a nonissue to these eyes. Having won a first-level allowance and being a sprinter, she didn't have any sprint stakes available to her during the Churchill Downs meet. So trainer Eddie Kenneally sat tight, freshened her a bit, and now ships her to Fair Grounds from his current base at Palm Meadows in Florida.

Champions Day Sprint

A race later in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, I am intrigued by Power Surge, primarily as a potential value play. Although a well-beaten second to Flashy Wise Cat in a prep for this race Nov. 14, he looms a better wager than that short-priced rival, who is at risk of a bounce after such a dominant performance.

On the basis of what he has done over the past 12 months, Power Surge has much to offer. He has won 6 of his last 13 starts, with four of those victories coming in open high-priced claimers, not in restricted Louisiana-bred company.

His versatile running style is yet another plus. This year, for example, he has won pressing the pace and by closing from 5 1/2 lengths off the leaders. He has also won at distances from five furlongs to the six-furlong distance of the Louisiana Champions Day sprint.

So even though he may be coming from off the pace, he is not the kind of horse who will be rallying too late. He ought to be battling for the lead from the eighth pole to the wire.

Gowell Stakes

Heading north to Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., Saturday's Gowell Stakes there is another great wagering race. There are 12 juvenile fillies in the lineup, plus a couple of also-eligibles.

With the race to be contested over Turfway's synthetic Polytrack surface, I went looking for a horse with established synthetic form and settled on Maddie's Odyssey, who won over Presque Isle's Tapeta surface in June of this year.

But it was her last race that really caught my eye. Racing on dirt - not the surface for which is bred, being by turf sire Kitten's Joy - she ran easily the best race of her career, running third at Churchill Downs in a fast $50,000 claiming race for 2-year-old fillies.

Finishing in front of her were two fillies who had already won allowances, and whom were able to take advantage of relatively paceless conditions.

A stalker, Maddie's Odyssey should move forward in the Gowell - not only over Polytrack, but also with more speed in the field. She should get a favorable stalking trip on the outside.

She also benefits from having a home-track edge in the Gowell. Unlike most of the entrants, she is stabled at Turfway and will not have to ship for the race.