07/30/2009 11:00PM

Turf or dirt, a closer will fare well


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Sunday's entry-level optional claiming feature at Louisiana Downs drew an interesting cast of characters with several subplots. A field of eight has been entered with one, Miss Atlantic, scheduled to start only if the one-mile affair slated for the turf is transferred to the main track.

That scenario is certainly possibly, given the unusually wet weather in place during the last week. Five consecutive days of rain gave way to a brief respite on Friday, but more rain was expected for the weekend. While the rain has rejuvenated the turf course, it has also made it off limits since last Sunday.

Regardless of the surface this Sunday, one thing is certain - there should be ample early pace to set the race up for someone who does their best running late. Aptiseno and Restless Star both come off recent wire jobs, and Miss Atlantic appears poised to try the front end as well should she go.

The favorite's role in Sunday's headliner may also depend on which surface the race is run over. Farasino has been a model of consistency this season for trainer Jorge Lara, who claimed the 5-year-old Sefapiano mare in early April for $7,500 after losing her for the same claiming price at Oaklawn a month before. Farasino has won 3 of 9 starts this year with three runner-up finishes, but all of her races have come over the main track. She has tried the turf on only one occasion, without success, although she has never been better than she is right now. Jose Riquelme will handle the riding duties.

Should the race remain on the grass, Magic Shaw could be favored following three second-place performances on the turf. Trained by Ronnie Ward, she continues to train well, and while she does have a win on the main track this year, her strength appears to lie on the grass. Sidney Lejeune has the return call.

Shrunken field sizes on Thursday

The soggy conditions and some unruly behavior took its toll on Thursday's program, which was already smallish in size to begin with. With turf races moved off and the main track sloppy to start the day, there were the usual scratches that trimmed the original 67 betting interests down to just 59.

The seventh race had one of the largest fields of the day, with nine horses, before circumstances reduced that number by two. First, even-money favorite Fast Fuzzy broke through the gate before the start of the maiden claimer for 2-year-olds and made a lap before being apprehended and subsequently scratched. Not to be outdone, Productive Envoy, who had inherited favorite's role at 3-2, also ran off before the start and was declared out as well.

Ontrack handle on the afternoon that began and ended under threatening skies was a paltry $68,000, while the all sources was a more respectable $1.8 million.