01/25/2007 12:00AM

Turf edge to Pete the Poet



NEW ORLEANS - The $75,000 Black Gold Stakes, Saturday's feature race at Fair Grounds, is unusual in that it's a turf stakes that has attracted only a single horse, Pete the Poet, who has ever won a race on the grass. Seven 3-year-old colts were entered in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint.

Pete the Poet won his maiden on turf in September in his second start, then showed speed before tiring when sent around two turns on the grass at Keeneland.

Trainer Eric Reed next entered the Exploit colt in a turf race at Churchill, but rain turned the race into an off-the-turf mile, and he led for a half-mile and faded to third. Reed turned him back to 6 1/2 furlongs on the Polytrack at Turfway Park for his most recent start, and Pete the Poet won.

"He goes well on different surfaces, but when we first started him we thought he would run well on grass," said Reed.

Pete the Poet has cooperated by winning 2 of his 5 starts for Reed, but he can be a handful before he races.

"He's got a bad habit: He's tough to get saddled," Reed said. "If you bring the outriding pony in he saddles very easily, but if you try to do it any other way you can get the whole New Orleans Saints football team in there and you won't get a saddle on him."

The only other horse in the race with grass experience is Tainted Money, part of an uncoupled entry from Reed's barn. Tainted Money won on Turfway's Polytrack when dropped into a maiden claimer for his second start, holding on to win by a neck. He then built a long lead on the Keeneland Polytrack surface but lost by a nose in a $25,000 claimer. Back at Turfway he improved dramatically, rating early before drawing off to top a first-level allowance field by eight lengths.

"He ran really green first time, but since we put blinkers on him, he's a nose away from being undefeated," Reed said.

Probation Ready finished second to Teuflesberg in the Dec. 24 Sugar Bowl and may be the horse to beat despite his lack of grass form. A More Than Ready colt, Probation Ready was a $170,000 weanling purchase at the 2004 Keeneland November sale. Prior to the Sugar Bowl, he won a first-level allowance sprint here.

Sammy From Miami has had it all his own way in a brief career, easily beating maiden claimers at Louisiana Downs in September after a slow start, then leading at every call against first-level allowance foes at Delta Downs on Nov. 17.