03/12/2008 12:00AM

Pierce's meet deserves title like 'Going My Way'


NEW ORLEANS - It's a sure sign a trainer is having a good meet when he claims that the rainouts have worked in his favor, and that's the kind of banner Fair Grounds season Malcolm Pierce has enjoyed.

Danceroftherealm's victory in the Bienville Stakes on Saturday was almost overshadowed by Sunday's dominating effort by Much Obliged, a 3-year-old owned and bred by Pin Oak Stud. Pierce trains them both.

Much Obliged arrived in New Orleans a maiden, and will leave as a filly to be taken seriously. After winning her maiden impressively on Feb. 9, she came back on Sunday in a first-level allowance and was much the best, coming home 4 3/4 lengths in front in a field of 11.

Pierce's first efforts to get her on the track at Fair Grounds were waylaid when her turf race was moved to the main track and she was scratched.

"She's finally coming into herself," said Pierce. "She was immature and light when we got here, and it was probably a blessing that she got scratched when she did."

Her target is the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland, a mile on the turf.

Danceroftherealm scored big in the Bienville, the final stakes on the Louisiana Derby Day card, making her 3 for 3 here this winter.

Danceroftherealm is being pointed toward the 5 1/2-furlong Giant's Causeway at Keeneland, but Pierce hasn't ruled out trying her at longer stakes races.

"We might see if she'll go a little longer. I think she'll stretch out to seven-eighths, maybe a mile," said Pierce.

My Pal Charlie no longshot to Stall

When My Pal Charlie came home second, 2o1/2 lengths behind Pyro at 60-1 in the Louisiana Derby, almost everyone admitted surprise except trainer Al Stall, who finds the situation eerily reminiscent.

"It's a situation similar to Ketchikan last year," said Stall, who trained Ketchikan to a second-place finish at long odds in last year's Louisiana Derby. "This time of year, with these type of horses, everybody is trying to figure out, as they say New Orleans, 'Where they at?' "

While not surprised at the strong race, he did admit to being staggered for a moment, when My Pal Charlie was alone on the lead and Pyro appeared trapped.

"For a second I was like Fred Sanford [on the old TV show Sanford and son], clutching his heart." said Stall. "Frankly, I was surprised that he was 60-1 because I always thought he had a chance."

My Pal Charlie is being pointed toward a race on April 12, with his connections leaning toward the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park rather than the Blue Grass at Keeneland, though no decision has been reached.

Meanwhile, Ketchikan, still trained by Stall, had his first work in almost a year last Saturday, going three furlongs in 37.60 seconds. After his second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby last year, Ketchikan injured his cannon bone, and hasn't raced since.

Student Council arrives, Connally Cup next

Student Council has arrived from California and moved into Steve Asmussen's barn at the Fair Grounds. Asmussen said that he is being pointed toward the Woodford Reserve, on the Kentucky Derby undercard, and will likely prep for that race in the Connally Cup at Sam Houston on April 5. The Connally is a Grade 3 turf stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Asmussen worked Student Council a half-mile over the Fair Grounds main track in 52 seconds Monday. "He's a lovely horse, and he worked well," Asmussen said. "He'll do whatever you ask of him. He's nothing but class."

Firerock Base earns shot in Connally

Firerock Base won his third straight allowance race at this meet for trainer Bobby Barnett, topping a talented field of nine in Sunday's feature race, a third-level allowance on turf.

"He's taking everything in stride," said Barnett. "He's cleaned up his feed, he's a happy horse, enjoying life."

A $20,000 Keeneland purchase in 2004, Firerock Base pushed his bankroll past $100,000, and earned himself the chance to try stakes company.

"He ran right through his conditions," said Barnett. "In the last two races he came from off the pace and beat some nice horses, so we are going to race him in the Connally."