02/19/2011 1:15PM

Take your pick of Steve Margolis's horses at Fair Grounds

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NEW ORLEANS – As good as trainer Steve Margolis’s 2009-2010 Fair Grounds meet was – and it was good, 29 percent wins good – the 2010-2011 season in New Orleans is coming up even rosier. After only 69 starters, Margolis is two winners away from the 24 victories he notched all last season. His horses are winning at a 31-percent clip, and bettors surely have noticed that a win bet on every single Margolis horse this Fair Grounds meet would have produced a return-on-investment of $2.20.

The issue, then, in the featured eighth race on Monday at Fair Grounds may come down to this: Margolis has two horses in the race.

Hello Monday, bred and owned by Martin Cherry, hasn’t been out since August, but she showed talent last summer winning the second and third starts of her career. Those wins came on dirt, and the Monday feature, a second-level allowance also open to $40,000 claimers, is carded for turf. But Hello Monday is by grass influence Indian Charlie and may do just fine on grass.

Grass is where Margolis – to no avail – has been trying to get his other entrant, Water of Life, for the better part of four months. Water of Life, owned by Thoroughbred Futures Racing – was entered three times this meet in turf sprints, and all three times the race came off grass. She managed to win a first-level allowance that was moved to dirt two starts ago, and was a close, closing fourth at this class level in her most recent start on Jan. 31. A Feb. 14 workout in 47.20 seconds, the fastest of 107 such drills that day, suggests Water of Life is sitting on something decent.

The three horses that finished in front of Water of Life last time – Miss Diane, True Brew, and Dajohna – all return for Monday’s race, but among them only True Brew has demonstrated turf ability.

Celadon, who is seeking her third straight win, comes from the barn of Ronny Werner. She came into this meet a maiden but has turned in consecutive winning turf-sprint performances. She’s well drawn on the outside of an eight-horse field to employ her tactical speed.

◗ Somewhat suddenly, Rosie Napravnik has opened up a 12-win lead over Richard Eramia in the race for leading rider. Through Friday night’s races, Napravnik had 67 winners to 55 for Eramia.

The trainer standings are more tightly bunched, with Steve Asmussen leading Tom Amoss 29 wins to 25. Margolis is third in the standings with 22 winners, followed closely by Mike Stidham with 21, and Bret Calhoun with 20.