02/01/2002 12:00AM

No fighting, or joining, Super festivities


NEW ORLEANS - If you ran a racetrack, and the Super Bowl was being played in your city, then you might think about capitalizing on the tens of thousands of people in town by luring some of them to the track in the early afternoon before they head out to watch the football game.

Then again, you might not realize just how huge the Super Bowl is.

"You wouldn't want to have a major stake or any kind of big promotion for Super Bowl day, simply because you're not going to get the kind of media focus you need," said Fair Grounds president Bryan Krantz.

Indeed, not only is the media zeroed in on the ball game, but the Super Bowl is such a massive event that most people, especially the tourists, make an entire day of it. Going to the track - or anywhere, for that matter - then leaving in plenty of time to make the 5:18 p.m. Central kickoff seems too much of a distraction when most people already have planned out a full day of eating, drinking, partying, and congregating.

This is the ninth time that New Orleans has played host to a Super Bowl, so Krantz is keenly familiar with the game-day habits of most people. He concedes that expending money and effort on Super Bowl Sunday would mostly be a waste.

"We'll have an okay day because of the early post time and the short card," said Krantz of the 11:30 a.m. start to a nine-race card. "A lot of the local people aren't going to the Super Bowl, so that gives them plenty of time to come to the races, then get home and watch the game on TV. Business-wise, it should be pretty much like a normal Sunday."

Krantz said he and his wife, Vickie, normally do not attend the Super Bowl but will do so this year in a semi-official capacity as escorts for important out-of-town guests. Lord Stoker Hartington, the representative to Ascot Racecourse for the Queen of England, wanted to attend the game this year with three family members. So, following a telephone call from retired Keeneland chairman Ted Bassett - who was relaying a request from Will Farish, the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's - the Krantzes will host the Hartingtons in a Superdome skybox.

Krantz said that because of the extraordinary security measures in place at the Superdome, he probably will arrive several hours before game time. "We've been told the earlier you get there, the better," he said. "Plus the entertainment starts at 1 o'clock."

As might be expected, other racetrackers will be at the game, including Tom Amoss, who has trained horses for Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, for many years.

"Mr. Wilson always gives me tickets whenever the game is in New Orleans," said Amoss. "So this year, my wife and I are going with one of my clients, Merwyn Sher, and his wife."

Sher, whose horses run in the name of Tom Boy Stable, lives in St. Louis and is a Rams season ticket-holder. "He's fired up," said Amoss.

Meanwhile, Lenny Pike Jr., the agent for jockeys Robby Albarado and Craig Perret, will host his third annual Super Bowl extravaganza at a nearby apartment complex.

Toi Fund heads Sales Stakes

As a tip-off that Fair Grounds has basically conceded the day to the colossus that is the Super Bowl, the feature race Sunday is the $80,000 Fair Grounds Sales Stakes, which is restricted to 3-year-olds who were sold last March at the Fair Grounds Sales Company's 2-year-olds in training sale.

Toi Fund, one of just three horses who have won a race among the field of seven, appears to be the horse to beat in the one-mile Fair Grounds Sales Stakes, which is carded as the fourth race. Richie Scherer trains Toi Fund, whose only start resulted in a narrow victory in statebred maiden-special company.

Easily the best horse to emerge from the Fair Grounds Sales was Blushing K.D., who won the 1997 Kentucky Oaks for owners Jim and Sue Burns and trainer Sam David.

Blushing K.D., a Blushing John filly who eventually foundered and died at age 4, was a $25,000 purchase.

Monkey business

One of the benefits to having the Super Bowl in town is that some of the sideshows make their way to the track.

Take, for instance, an appearance here Thursday by Jonah, a 6-year-old chimpanzee who is the spokesman - er, spokesmonkey - for an Internet brokerage firm. Much to the delight of fans and employees, Jonah was brought onto the in-house handicapping show with Mike Diliberto and Vince Marinello, alternately sitting on the hosts' laps and making selections in several races.

"He actually took a pen and circled White Star in the feature," said Diliberto. The pick was Jonah's best of the day, as White Star finished second at 15-1 behind victorious Lac Grand.

Jonah was in town for several such promotions, appearing at the "NFL Experience" and being a guest on WWL (870-AM), the biggest radio station in New Orleans.