05/24/2007 11:00PM

Tortuga Flats will stay on turf

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Tortuga Flats won three straight stakes races on dirt earlier in her career, but improved her turf record to 2 for 2 with an optional claiming win last weekend at Louisiana Downs and will focus this year on grass racing, trainer Ralph Irwin said.

Tortuga Flats registered her first turf win in the $52,000 Elge Raspberry last July at Louisiana Downs. Her latest victory on the grass came in an open-company optional claimer May 18, when she stalked the pace in the about one-mile turf race, then powered to a 1 3/4-length win.

"She looked very good," Irwin said. "She showed a nice explosion there to run well for us.

"We're going to try to keep her on the grass, naturally. She just seems like a better filly on the grass."

Irwin said an upcoming stakes objective for Tortuga Flats is the $100,000 Walmac Farm Matchmaker, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares on July 21. The race is part of the Louisiana Downs Champions Day program, and it is restricted to horses bred in Louisiana.

"In between, we'll just see what unfolds," Irwin said. "She came out of the race well, and is training forwardly."

Tortuga Straits, a 3-year-old half-brother to Tortuga Flats, also could see action on Louisiana Downs Champions Day. He has resumed training following a minor physical setback, and the initial goal for him is the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby.

Tortuga Straits is a five-time stakes winner of $363,000.

Babies on turf Sunday

A field of 2-year-old fillies took part in an about five-furlong turf sprint here Friday, with the Morris Nicks-trained Gone Dixie ($7.20) winning her debut. Sunday, the boys get their chance on the grass. The second race is a maiden special weight for 2-year-old colts and geldings at about five furlongs on turf, and Nicks will again be represented with a starter. He will send out Loafers Glory.

The colt is a son of Pike Pass, a two-turn stakes winner, and Impetuous Molly, a multiple sprint stakes winner.

Loafers Glory shows some nice works for his debut and will be ridden by Donnie Meche. Another horse of interest is Dominating Cat, a son of Tale of the Cat.