12/19/2007 1:00AM

Quench a question at one mile

EmailIt's turning into the Malcolm Pierce show, the meet down in New Orleans.

Pierce, a Canadian with long ties to Fair Grounds racing, started the 2006-2007 meet hot, and has done the same thing again this year. Four of his first nine starters have won, including Sterwins, who captured the Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap last weekend. And in Friday's featured ninth race, Pierce appears to have another live one: Quench, who enters a third-level turf allowance race having won three in a row.

Quench was one of just seven horses entered in a somewhat strange grass race to be decided over "about" one mile. The race has horses who last started at venues all over the eastern half of North America, but has no horses with a proven history of showing speed.

Pierce does not encourage his horses to show speed, unless they can do so in a relaxed fashion. Time after time, he talks about teaching horses to relax; the more they learn to settle and obey the jockey, the better they become. This focus may explain why Pierce always seems to be involved in turf races, where rating kindly and finishing quickly often is rewarded.

Quench, a 3-year-old Smoke Glacken gelding, seems to have learned his lessons well - but he still has questions to answer. His winning streak has come in one-turn races at six and seven furlongs, and Quench hasn't even attempted a two-turn start since he finished fifth of 10 in a maiden turf race about this time last year at Fair Grounds. Neither does his price does figure to be attractive Friday, not with Pierce's gaudy stats, and Robby Albarado named to ride.

Got the Last Laugh is an interesting possibility. He comes back on very short rest, having finished a close sixth behind Sterwins just last Saturday. Got the Last Laugh drops in class from three stakes races, and won easily on the Saratoga turf the last time he faced allowance company.

Late-running Electric Chant also figures to be well supported in the betting.

* In race 8, Ceasers March makes his first start since June, and should be tough to beat in a second-level Louisiana-bred sprint allowance race.