09/29/2008 11:00PM

Tour d'Aura or Ric Rac?


STICKNEY, Ill. - The perspective on the finish line figures to be completely different for Ric Rac and Tour d'Aura during the stretch run of the featured sixth race on Thursday at Hawthorne. For the front-running Tour d'Aura, the wire can't come soon enough, but it might come up too quickly for late-closing Ric Rac.

These two fillies look like principal players in a one-mile grass race open to third-level allowance horses or $40,000 claimers. The race drew nine entries, but Denouncer's Gal will start only in the event of a rain-off onto dirt. And so much for open allowance company: Of the eight horses in the main body of the field, six - including Ric Rac and Tour d'Aura - are Illinois-bred.

Tour d'Aura runs under the claiming option, her first time tagged since she won at this same class level and distance on the Hawthorne grass course last Nov. 15. Tour d'Aura has gone 0 for 7 this year, but may benefit from a return to turf racing. In three recent Polytrack starts, Tour d'Aura finished no better than fourth, and her best race of the Arlington meet was a third-place finish in the statebred-restricted Lincoln Heritage Stakes on June 21.

As for Ric Rac, her Silky Sullivan style will be bucking a mild course trend from opening week, when front-runners or pace-pressers won four of five turf races here. Rain this week in Chicago also could work against Ric Rac, who made her first four starts this year on wet courses, and finally showed her best form on Sept. 1 in her first 2008 try over firm going. There, Ric Rac rallied from last of nine to finish third, beaten three-quarters of a length by Shares Perfection, a solid winner of Sunday's turf feature at Hawthorne.

Tour d'Aura's chances might hinge on how much early speed two stretch-out sprinters, Kissit and Little Star, are allowed to show. Another potential pace player, Lil Carolina, is, like Tour d'Aura, trained by Moises Yanez, who surely won't allow his pair to compromise one another. If the pace turns hot, late-running Starlight Dove also could factor. Sun for Fun improved to win an Illinois-bred grass allowance last out at Arlington. Celeritas has never finished better than third in six turf tries.