08/07/2007 11:00PM

Turf course favoring front-runners lately


BOSSIER CITY, La. - The complexion of turf racing has changed dramatically of late at Louisiana Downs, and Friday's trio of events on the grass should provide some interesting, and perhaps surprising, outcomes as a result.

Front-runners on the grass have returned with a vengeance as the unusually rainy first half of the summer - July was the fifth wettest on record - has given way to the more typical dog days of August with 100-degree temperatures and no rain in sight. Early speed has gone from being almost an immediate throw-out to practically essential. Of the 10 turf races run last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, four were won from on the pace, four from a stalking position, and only two with what could be called a rally from well back. Internal fractions and final running times have also gotten faster, another indicator that the course has firmed up considerably.

Friday's first turf event is the fourth race on the card. It has an entry-level allowance condition and a $50,000 claiming option. Several in the one-mile affair will be making their turf debut, including Inamonthuofsundays. A Gold Tribute filly, she won at first asking here on July 28 after showing the way throughout in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden claiming affair. She appears to be the controlling speed of the race, and should the trend of front-runners on the grass continue, she stands an excellent chance of making her first turf start a winning one. Diego Saenz has the call for trainer Martin Peek.

The eighth race on the program is a starter allowance sprint on the grass. While there is no shortage of speed in the five-furlong dash, Black Hills Bandit appears to be the quickest of the quick after bucking convention earlier in the meeting and wiring a group of allowance foes in late May. She has not been out since, however, so questions surrounding the layoff linger.

Glenners could provide a better-priced alternative in the eighth. While she, too, has not seen action since early summer, she has been training well for her return. She is trained by Jerry Cart and will be ridden by Jeff Burningham. The two make up one of the hottest trainer-rider combinations here this season.

Accept the Kiss, a tiring fifth-place finisher after showing the way early in his lone turf start in May, may find the footing much more to his liking in Friday's final race, a third-level allowance event with a $30,000 claiming price.