06/02/2005 12:00AM

River Downs: Fierce Cat clear choice


Fierce Cat, an impressive winner of his first two starts on the turf last month, figures to be a short-priced favorite to notch his first stakes win on the grass in the $45,000 Green Carpet Stakes at River Downs. The Green Carpet, for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds, will be run at 1 1/16 miles.

Fierce Cat was one of the leading 2-year-olds in Ohio last season following wins in the Royalty Stakes and Best of Ohio Juvenile. But just as quickly as he ascended the ranks of statebred runners, his reputation began to lose a bit of its luster. The downturn began last fall when Fierce Cat finished a tiring sixth in the Ohio Freshman, and then continued in his first two starts this year, poor efforts in the Noonan Stakes and in an allowance against older horses.

Trainer Bill Napier sent Fierce Cat to the turf for his next start, a $25,000 claimer at River, and he responded with a gate-to-wire victory at odds of 13-1. He then beat older horses in an open third-level allowance.

As the only turf winner in the Green Carpet field, Fierce Cat appears formidable.

Pyrite Springs, twice second in allowance company on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs, and Brooks Blach, a multiple allowance winner by turf influence Academy Award, may be the strongest rivals to Fierce Cat.