11/29/2006 12:00AM

Royal Copenhagen class of field


Royal Copenhagen won the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes on Sept. 15 at Arlington. The catch is, that was Sept. 15, 2005, and Royal Copenhagen has not won again since then.

A Grade 1, several Grade 2's, a couple of Grade 3's, one listed stakes, and even a dip into the allowance race - nothing has yet coaxed a fourth career victory from Royal Copenhagen. But that shouldn't stop Fair Grounds players from making her the favorite in the featured ninth race Friday.

Royal Copenhagen was one of nine fillies and mares entered in the Friday feature, carded at 1 1/16 miles on grass for third-level allowance horses, and even with her long losing streak, she's by far the most accomplished of the bunch. Royal Copenhagen, a French import owned by Arlington Park chairman Richard Duchossois, has bankrolled more than $342,000 and has run against high-class horses like Gorella and Silver Cup during 2006. Transferred from trainer Laura de Seroux to Chris Block late this summer, Royal Copenhagen was a close, closing fourth on Sept. 30 in the Indian Maid at Hawthorne, then a solid third of 11 in the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap on Nov. 5 at Churchill. Friday, she makes her first start under the care of Richie Scherer, to whom Block, who is based in Chicago, has sent a few horses for Fair Grounds grass races the last several years.

Scherer hasn't had Royal Copenhagen long, but she's gotten in a breeze over the Fair Grounds main track and seems set for Friday's race.

"She's a nice filly and seems to do everything right," Scherer said. "She carries a lot of class around her, and she seems to be training well and ready for a big effort."

As much as anything, Royal Copenhagen needs some pace and racing luck, since she likes to sit near the back of the field and make a big stretch run. A lot of speed, however, there is not in Friday's race, but the Fair Grounds turf course tends to eat up front-runners even when the pace is soft.

Royal Leah figures to get first run on Royal Copenhagen. An Illinois-bred, Royal Leah made her first six starts in statebred competition, winning an entry-level allowance by six lengths Sept. 8 at Arlington, but apparently, there was more in Royal Leah's tank than that. Switched to an open second-level allowance race Nov. 5 at Churchill, Royal Leah closed into a moderate pace and scored at 20-1.