03/31/2011 2:10PM

Turfway: La Gran Bailadora tries to end Maker's big meet with a bang


Mike Maker has dominated the 2011 winter-spring meeting at Turfway Park, even with the proverbial one hand tied behind his back. Despite his better horses wintering at Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds, Maker daylighted his colleagues with shrewd placements, racking up 34 wins from 96 starts as the meet winds to a close this weekend.

Fittingly, the final Saturday of the meet could be a showcase for Maker, as the 42-year-old trainer will send out La Gran Bailadora as a major contender in the $50,000 Fairway Fun Stakes at the Florence, Ky., track.

La Gran Bailadora, bred and owned by Tracy Farmer, has won 3 of 4 starts this winter at Turfway, knocking out two allowance races before capturing the Feb. 12 Likely Exchange and finishing a just-miss second as the favorite in the March 12 Wintergreen.

“Winning this would be a nice ending to a good meet,” said Maker.

La Gran Bailadora is one of seven fillies and mares in the Fairway Fun, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race that goes as the 10th of 12 races Saturday, when first post is 5:30 p.m. Eastern. The feature goes at 9:57.

Spring Party, who outlasted La Gran Bailadora by a head in the Wintergreen, figures as the primary rival when starting from post 2 with Ben Creed back aboard. Trained by Eric Reed, Spring Party was claimed for $25,000 last fall and was notching her first stakes victory in the Wintergreen.

Others in the mix in the 37th Fairway Fun include Blushing Dixie, a recent arrival from Fair Grounds for Steve Margolis; Seniga, who was good enough to win an open allowance last fall on the Keeneland turf; Sweet Mis Kitty, a last-out Turfway winner for Reed; and Miss Luann, also a last-out Turfway winner for Dale Romans, a three-time winner of the Fairway Fun, most recently in 2007 with Half Heaven.

While Maker long ago clinched the winter-spring trainer title, the same goes for Creed among the jockeys. Going into Friday action, Creed had won 58 races, with Rodney Prescott second with 37.

Closing day at Turfway is Sunday. Live action on the Kentucky circuit stops for four days before the 15-day spring meet begins Friday at Keeneland.