03/17/2009 11:00PM

Springer tries for elusive first win of meet

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NEW ORLEANS - As the season winds down at Fair Grounds, some trainers are hoping the final days will yield victories that up until now have proved elusive. That is particularly evident in Friday's eighth race.

A first-level allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, trainer Frank Springer sends out House of Words. Both Springer and his horse are trying to get to the winner's circle for the first time this meet.

House of Words has run well enough to finish second in his three races here this season, but has come up just short each time, a pattern that has plagued Springer, who has saddled 17 runners, with nine in-the-money finishes but no wins.

"I've been second best in most spots," said Springer.

House of Words's last two races came at Friday's distance and condition level. Two races ago, on Jan. 10, he came from off the pace to get nearly even with the winner, but could not overtake him.

In his last race, on Feb. 5, House of Words attempted to wire the field, and was overtaken in the stretch, finishing second by a half-length.

"I think it is way better for him to come from off the pace, but they were so slow last time that we were the pace," said Springer. "But I think there is enough speed in there they could give him some pace to shoot at."

House of Words will find a familiar cast of characters, as he has previously faced four of his seven opponents.

In the ninth race, a third-level allowance for Louisiana-breds going six furlongs on the main track, Shockin Blow will be trying to rebound from a non-effort. His last race, the Gentilly Stakes on Feb. 28, was a failed experiment, as Shockin Blow tried the turf and going long for the first time.

"It was an experimental race for him, and he never did pick up the bit when he ran on the turf," said trainer Merrill Scherer. "At the Fair Grounds, the turf will not be his forte."

Shockin Blow has turned in one work since, a four-furlong effort on March 13, and it was solid, giving Scherer the impetus to give him another shot here, even though he will have to run against older horses.