03/12/2011 2:04PM

Turf or dirt, Cannon Man will play role in Fair Grounds feature


As of Saturday, March 12, when the grassy Grindstone Stakes was scheduled to be contested, Fair Grounds hadn’t run a turf race since Feb. 28, but a sustained spell of dry weather has turned the turf course viable again, and Monday’s featured eighth race stands a good chance of actually staying on grass.

That’s probably not what the connections of Cannon Man hoped for. Cannon Man, one of 10 horses entered in a second-level allowance race also open to $40,000 claimers, finished sixth and eighth last summer at Louisiana Downs in the only two grass races of his career. But on the Fair Grounds main track, he’s been unbeatable, winning all four of his starts by a combined 13 lengths.

Still, even if Cannon Man can’t show his best on turf – and the jury hasn’t reached a final verdict on that – he can affect the Monday feature. Between front-end types Cannon Man, Handleman, Lost Camp, and Future Covenant, the race should at least have an honest pace, and that might be all Hype needs to post a stretch-running win. A crazily slow half-mile, turf-sprint split of about 47.80 seconds blunted the effectiveness of Hype’s closing kick in a race at this class level Feb. 24. With more legit splits to chase, Hype can run down the leaders this time.

Auspicious Risk is entered main-track only.

Asmussen, Rachel Alexandra to join local hall of fame

The Fair Grounds Hall of Fame went on hiatus following Hurricane Katrina, but the first class of inductees since the hurricane was announced last week.

Entering the local Hall of Fame will be trainer Steve Asmussen, who has a good chance to win his 10th Fair Grounds training title this season, and the horses Rachel Alexandra and Peace Rules. Rachel Alexandra won the 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks, and finished second in the 2010 New Orleans Ladies. Peace Rules won the 2003 Louisiana Derby.

◗ Comedero, who won five straight sprint stakes by almost 30 combined lengths last spring, has been working steadily since early February at Fair Grounds, and could make his 4-year-old debut in an Arkansas-bred sprint stakes on April 2 at Oaklawn Park, trainer Mike Stidham said.

◗ Expansion, the 32-1 upset winner of the Feb. 19 Fair Grounds Handicap, is on course to run back in the March 26 Mervin Muniz Handicap.