02/03/2007 12:00AM

Sprinters step up for rematch


NEW ORLEANS - Primal Peak and Regwell, who finished one-two in a turf allowance sprint at Fair Grounds on Jan. 8, meet again in Monday's feature, a second-level allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass course.

Both horses are recent claims who have stepped up nicely into allowance competition. Cody Autrey claimed Primal Peak for $50,000 on Dec. 7, waited a month, and ran him on the grass even though he ran poorly at Churchill Downs in his only previous turf start. The 4-year-old Primal Peak turned in an impressive effort, running past Regwell late.

"When he ran on the grass the first time he came out of the 12-hole going a mile," said Autrey. "He was wide and he had a bad trip so we decided to throw out that race and try him back on the grass. So we took a shot and he liked it. He ran a good race."

Regwell, claimed for $30,000 by Tom Amoss on Nov. 17, rebounded after finishing second to Primal Peak and moved through his first allowance condition in a dirt sprint Jan. 18. Now he will face Primal Peak again.

The race has an interesting subtext, since Amoss and Autrey have dominated the trainer standings at the meet. Autrey broke out to an early lead, then Amoss surged past him, but Autrey has stayed within a few victories and both are well clear of the rest of the pack.

"We've claimed 43 horses so far at this meet," said Autrey. "We just try to spot good horses that have good form and fit the conditions we can run them in. If we can move them up into allowance company so much the better."

The nine-horse field is light on grass form. Westmoreland is the only horse in the race who has won twice on turf. The 5-year-old Westmoreland has been off since Dec. 2 but is training well for Al Stall. Grand Escape is a consistent sort on the grass with a 1-1-1 record in 4 starts. G.W.'s Jazz won his maiden over the Fair Grounds turf course in February 2005. Express News finished fifth in a Saratoga stakes in his only grass start. Valid Brush and Sweetening are each making their first turf start.