02/27/2009 12:00AM

Stakes might be on Cush's horizon


No superstars sighted among the past performances for Sunday's racing program at Fair Grounds, but a surprising number of decent horses among a lineup light on claimers. In fact, six of the day's 10 scheduled races are either maiden special weights or allowances of some sort, with the highest-class fare an open allowance for Louisiana-bred sprinters, race 8.

The horse to watch in the nominal feature is Cush, whose connections - owner Stewart Madison, trainer Andy Leggio - might well have aspirations beyond Louisiana with this improving 4-year-old. Cush has the same connections as Happy Ticket, among the best Louisiana-breds of the last decade, and after showing promise all along, Cush has begun looking like a real stakes horse.

A son of Arch, Cush came highly touted as a 2-year-old of 2007, and ran some fast races that year and last, but his form flitted in and out. Away from the races after tailing off early last summer, Cush has won two in a row since making his comeback early this meet. He drifted out late while scoring a workmanlike win in his Jan. 8 return, but was far more impressive winning a nonwinners-of-four sprint allowance on Feb. 7, rating nicely behind a moderate pace before coming with a strong stretch run to win by almost five lengths. Sunday, Cush appears to be ideally drawn on the outside of a seven-horse field, with plenty of pace lined up to his inside. Another win as the favorite seems likely.

The 5-year-old Ceasers March was quicksilver fast from the start, but never really seemed to harness his speed. He won twice at Fair Grounds last season, but is seeking his first win since March, and seems likely to hook up early in Sunday's race with rail-drawn Killing Me. Howdy Ho looks like another pace factor in what could be a suicide mission for front-runners. Myoldmansam, a winner of his most recent start, could complete the exacta behind Cush.

There are two open second-level allowance races on the card, one for female turf route horses, the other for male sprinters on dirt. The fillies go in race 9, which drew a field of seven for turf, with three more entered only for the main track. Lightly raced Points of Grace looks like the one to beat here, but Talkin Indian is not far behind, and long layoff horse Lady Attack can't be discounted. Off since 2007, Lady Attack displayed graded-stakes-level turf ability before going to the sidelines.