02/11/2011 1:27PM

Siente El Treuno tries to make amends for two failures as favorite at Fair Grounds

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Oddly spelled Profesional Grade is correctBy Marty McGee

Mike Stidham is hoping the third time will be a charm on the comeback trail for a 4-year-old named Siente El Trueno. The colt pulled off something of a dubious rarity when being defeated as an odds-on favorite two times in as many starts already at the Fair Grounds meet since returning from a lengthy layoff.

“I was looking to duck after the second time,” joked Stidham, “in case somebody threw a tomato at me or something.”

Siente El Trueno will make his third start off the layoff Sunday in the featured eighth of 10 races at the New Orleans track, and Stidham is looking for an improved performance. The colt will be ridden by Anna Napravnik when breaking from post 6 in a field of seven going six furlongs for a $51,000 purse in a first-level optional $17,500 claimer.

Fans couldn’t help but notice that Siente El Trueno had romped to victory in his only career start last January, earning a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, so they made him a 1-2 favorite in a Dec. 5 turf allowance, only to see him finish fifth. A month later, back on the dirt, he finished second as the 4-5 choice.

“Obviously when he won first out he ran a monster number,” said Stidham. “He was off for a long time for a reason, and I’d rather not get too descriptive about it. First time back we had no choice but to run him on the grass because the dirt races plain didn’t fill. I don’t think he got much out of that race at all, so when he got beat the next time out, I’m thinking that was a reasonable excuse, that he was still a little short. Now I’m hoping that we’ve got everything tightened up and he’s ready to go out and get it done this time.”

Foremost among the opposition is another 4-year-old colt, Macjoey, who will start alongside in post 5 with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard. Macjoey also ran well enough to earn a 90 Beyer last year and most recently was second in a similar allowance sprint at Oaklawn Park.

I Am the Sheriff, My Man Moran, Profesional Grade, Holiday Ballad, and North of Alaska round out the cast. First post is 12:40 p.m. Central.