12/28/2010 3:13PM

Switching Gears looks to join her stablemates in stakes

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Already this winter, trainer Steve Margolis has sent out 2-year-old fillies Bouquet Booth and Little Miss Holly to noteworthy Louisiana victories, and Switching Gears can join Margolis’s list of 2011 3-year-old filly stakes hopefuls with a win in the featured sixth race Thursday at Fair Grounds.

Switching Gears is entered in an entry-level allowance race carded for a mile and 40 yards on dirt. The race drew just six entrants, including two from trainer Andrew McKeever, but Fair Grounds continues to show an increased willingness this season to let allowance races for young horses onto race programs, despite short fields that can suppress handle.

Switching Gears scored the most impressive maiden win among any of the horses in Thursday’s sixth when she defeated 10 foes Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs by at least 5 1/4 lengths, but it remains to be seen whether Switching Gears can transfer her talent to route racing.

Second in two sprints to start her career, Switching Gears raced one mile in the Pocahontas Stakes on Oct. 31 at Churchill: Whether her distant sixth-place finish resulted from overly ambitious placement or a lack of natural stamina is difficult to say, but Switching Gears did rebound nicely in her sharp maiden win about a month later. Switching Gears is by Tapit, a sire of route horses, but her dam, an Indian Ridge mare named Pace, tallied her lone win in a sprint. Switching Gears has posted three Fair Grounds workouts, including a Dec. 16 bullet half-mile, since shipping south. The limited number of opponents Thursday increases the chances that she will join Bouquet Booth, winner of the Delta Princess, and Little Miss Holly, a six-length Fair Grounds maiden-route winner on Dec. 9, among the nominees to the Jan. 22 Tiffany Lass Stakes in New Orleans.

Crepe Myrtle finished second in a Dec. 3 race just like Thursday’s, while Red Hot Maria beat 11 foes in a sprint maiden win Nov. 11 at Churchill. But Switching Gears’s main rival might be Suave Voir Faire, who was scratched from a Dec. 17 turf race apparently in favor of this main-track opportunity. Suave Voir Faire’s maiden win came on Turfway Polytrack, but she was third – albeit a distant third – in the Golden Rod on Nov. 27 over Churchill’s dirt track.