02/01/2007 1:00AM

Purim's choice: Turf or dirt?


NEW ORLEANS - Purim turned in one of the most impressive performances by an older horse on the Fair Grounds turf this meet when he won the Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap last month. It was only his second race since he just missed to the classy Rush Bay in the June 3 Opening Verse at Churchill Downs, yet he turned in a dead game performance, arguing the early pace and then tracking the leader, taking command in the stretch, and coming again after being headed inside the sixteenth pole to best Fort Prado by a head.

Trainer Tom Proctor was happy with Purim's performance after the race but was noncommittal about the horse's next assignment. "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans," he said. "When it comes to horse racing you can multiply that 10 times."

Eventually, plans do have to be made, and the next step in the Fair Grounds series for older turf routers is next Saturday's Grade 3 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup, scheduled for about 1 1/8 miles on the grass. Proctor said he was considering the race but was unwilling to commit.

"It's a possibility," he said, "but they don't take entries until next week. If I enter him, there's a good chance I'll run him."

Purim is also nominated for the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt the same day.

Proctor was also pleased with the outstanding performance by the 4-year-old Giant's Causeway filly Bridge Game, who toyed with second-level allowance foes last Friday.

"She's a good filly," said Proctor, "and she came out of the race good."

It would seem that stakes races are in Bridge Game's future, but Proctor declined to speculate.

"A lot of times they'll run big and you've just got to wait your time out, you know," he said.

"That was one of the first things I learned when I started training horses: If one ran big after a layoff or first time out, you've got to give the horse some time off. I remember my dad telling me that about the first horse I ever ran. We'll just have to see. I thought she ran big."

Asmussen wins three on card

The Steve Asmussen stable posted a training triple on Thursday's card, although Asmussen himself was not around for winner's circle ceremonies. Assistant trainer Scott Blasi saddled all three winners. Apprentice jockey Joe Talamo booted home the first two, rallying Jay's Buddy Bob from off the pace to win the second race, then sprinting away from the field aboard Paradise Peak in the sixth. Robby Albarado came from off the pace to win the off-the-turf feature aboard Wild Tonight.

* Fair Grounds announced Thursday that next Saturday's card will include a $200,000 guaranteed pick four involving the four Grade 3 stakes races on the card, the Risen Star, Silverbulletday, Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap, and Mineshaft Handicap.

* The annual Red Beans Cookoff at Fair Grounds, originally scheduled for last Sunday, has been rescheduled for Feb. 3.

* Longtime Fair Grounds employee Chris Champagne, co-author of the racetrack play "Win, Place and Show," will perform his latest one-man show, "Cirque de Dosgris," on Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. at Fair Grinds, right outside the Mystery Street gate.