05/17/2005 11:00PM

Six switch from turf to dirt


BOSSIER CITY, La - Friday's optional-claiming headliner brings together an eclectic group of runners, including six who move from the turf to the main track. The mile and 70-yard allowance race offers a $35,000 claiming option and drew a field of 11.

Heading those who are not changing surfaces Friday is Humble Chris, a 4-year-old gelding who is coming off a solid Oaklawn campaign in which he won 1 of 4 starts. has 2 victories from 5 previous starts here, including a 3 1/4-length win against allowance company in his final race here last fall. He should get ample pace to work with Friday under Kirk LeBlanc.

Leading trainer Cole Norman is moving back to the main track after a disappointing effort on the turf three weeks ago in the John Franks Memorial Stakes. Norman claimed Red Soldier for himself for $40,000 in his final Oaklawn start April 3. A winner both on turf and dirt, Red Soldier is a three-time winner locally and has license to improve in his second start for Norman. Guy Smith will ride.

will try to end an 11-race drought that dates back to January 2004. A son of El Prado trained by Wes Hawley, Driftwood Lodge has been consistently close during that span, including a third in the Magnolia Stakes at Fair Grounds on March 27, when she was beaten one length. Most recently, Driftwood Lodge finished fourth in an allowance race on turf here May 7. E.J. Perrodin has the call Friday.

Another who changes surfaces Friday is Forum Rules. In his last start, he finished 10th in the Houston Turf Cup Sprint, but has proven much more effective on dirt. Forum Rules possesses good route speed and jockey Jeff Burningham may be in position to exploit his inside post.

Commander Buck, a talented but inconsistent performer, returns here after failing to make an impact against allowance foes at Keeneland. A 4-year-old, he has won 2 of his 7 starts, both in front-running fashion, and appears to be the most likely to pressure Forum Rules in the early going. Luis Quinonez will be in the saddle.