02/08/2010 12:00AM

Stakes-class field in Fair Grounds feature


NEW ORLEANS - It might as well be a stakes race, with all the black type scattered though Monday's featured race, the eighth.

Carded as a third-level allowance with a $62,500 claiming option, and going 1 1/16 miles over the Fair Grounds turf, the race has drawn an unusually strong field of nine fillies and mares.


For Dancin Perfect, the race is a shot at redeeming her poor performance in the Furl Sail Handicap. In that race she attempted to stalk, but never really found her footing over a soft turf.

"She didn't like the soft, muddy going," said trainer Mike Burgess. "She didn't run that bad for a filly who really prefers firmer turf."

Her subpar effort in the Furl Sail came after she outran her odds to be beaten by a head in the Dec. 5 Pago Hop, as her bid came up just short. In that race, she managed to accelerate late even though the turf was listed as "good."

"As she goes on and develops and gets to firmer turf courses and warmer weather, she's going to be a nice filly," said Burgess. "I think the mile and sixteenth will be good for her, and when we stretch her out to a mile and an eighth, that will hit her right on the head."

She will be facing seasoned company in the allowance, as trainer Tom Amoss sends an uncoupled entry. Both of his runners have had some success in stakes races.

For Oculuna, it is a quick trip back to the races after she ran a decent fifth in the Leggio on Jan. 23.

In the Leggio, she was eight lengths back at the half-mile and was making up ground in the stretch.

"I thought she ran a good race," said Amoss. "I think the question for Oculuna is the two turns and stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth, but she's done it before."

In the race before the Leggio, Oculuna won a 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the Fair Grounds turf at the same level as this race, defeating her stablemate Nedjma who is entered here also.

Nedjma finished fifth in that race, but Amoss believes that she will appreciate the added distance.

"Oculuna won, but Nedjma was showing that she wanted more distance at the end, so this race ought to be a good equalizer," said Amoss.