12/29/2006 1:00AM

No Royal Copenhagen if Furl Sail goes on dirt


NEW ORLEANS - Royal Copenhagen will top a strong field in the $75,000 Furl Sail Handicap for fillies and mares Sunday at Fair Grounds, but only if it is run on the grass. The race is scheduled to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the turf course, but the forecast of rain could move it to the main track.

Winner of the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park last year, Royal Copenhagen is part of a string of horses sent by Chicago-based trainer Chris Block to Richard Scherer at Fair Grounds.

"She's been down here since Nov. 20," said Scherer. "She's been training very well. The only thing is I'm not sure with this weather. You can't do anything about Mother Nature. We won't run her if the race comes off the grass."

Several other accomplished turf runners may scratch out of the Furl Sail if it is moved to dirt. Aly's Vow, You Dancing Devil, Beau Happy, and Chetten County are all grass specialists. Dash of Humor has made 10 of her last 12 starts on grass, but earlier in her career she did most of her racing on the dirt. Candy Ball has done her best running on the grass but started her career on dirt and won her maiden with an 11-length score on the main track at Evangeline Downs.

Carolina Sky is 4 for 5 on grass but has also won on dirt. Fiery Dancer won the Pago Hop over the Fair Grounds grass course Nov. 25 but also won an off-the-turf route at Churchill Downs on May 25. Elle Runaway prefers turf but has run before when races came off the grass.

Several horses appear to have been entered in the hopes of a surface switch, particularly Culinary, a Michael Stidham-trained mare who won last year's Furl Sail when it was washed off the grass at Louisiana Downs. Culinary has never run on grass but has a lifetime bankroll of $262,430 on the dirt. She worked a half-mile in 48.20 seconds for this assignment.

Rolling Sea would also benefit from a surface switch. She finished third in the Pago Hop in her only grass start, but is a multiple stakes winner on dirt and finished third in a Grade 3 dirt stakes in August.

Cheyenne Spirit has tried the grass three times and finished second twice, but has done most of her running on dirt. Lady Pegasus has shown better form on the main track than the grass.