03/05/2005 12:00AM

Only two turf winners in field


NEW ORLEANS - The nine older fillies and mares entered in Monday's feature race at Fair Grounds, a $30,000 allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, all appear better suited to an off-the-grass scenario. Out of a collective 32 grass starts, only two of these contestants have managed a win on the turf.

Princess Tish has won one of her nine grass starts, and Popozinha one of eight. Princess Tish has exhibited retrograde form on both surfaces in seven starts since winning a maiden race at Fair Grounds last March. In her last two starts, she has shown speed before tiring badly.

Popozinha has a better turf record, 1-2-1 in eight starts, and finished third two back over the track.

The favorites are likely to be horses who have never won on turf. The best of these appears to be Trually Wild, who finished a troubled-trip second last time out. Trainer Gamaliel Vazquez could have her primed for a top effort.

Crossfield has never won on turf in six tries but has finished second six times, beating Popozinha two back. Scott's Doll has a second and a third in three grass starts. Red Hot Affair showed good speed in his only start on grass before tiring to finish fourth. Queen Speech has never run on turf, and last raced in July of 2004. She has been working well for trainer Danny Ya, however.

Another race on the card, a Louisiana-bred allowance for older fillies and mares at 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass, features a stronger collection of turf runners. The classy Destiny Calls, winner of last year's Red Camelia Stakes at Fair Grounds, heads the field.

The race also includes Katlin's Rocket, winner of the Matchmaker Stakes at Louisiana Downs last October and runner-up in the Seneca Stakes; Intractabie, second in the Matchmaker; and Autobesarah, fourth behind Happy Ticket and Destiny Calls in the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies at Fair Grounds.

* Churchill Downs Inc. has named Stacy Simms director of community relations for Fair Grounds. Simms spent nearly a decade as director on community affairs and special events for the New Orleans mayor's office. Simms' local connections will be important to CDI in its efforts to renovate and rebuild the facility, especially when the track reconfigures the plant to include slot machines, a controversial issue in local politics.