01/14/2003 1:00AM

Turnback angle for Gone Fishin


NEW ORLEANS - Yes, Gone Fishin rated for his rider when he raced at Fair Grounds on Dec. 15, but that doesn't mean he was happy about it.

Thursday, things will be simpler. Gone Fishin is a natural one-turn turf horse, and since he managed to finish second while racing around two turns last time, he should be tough turning back to a sprint in the featured ninth race at Fair Grounds.

The ninth race is one of three allowance races on a solid card that includes a fascinating maiden race for 3-year-old fillies.

As he did last month, Gone Fishin runs for a $75,000 claiming tag in an optional claiming race also open to third-level allowance horses. The distance switch should prove key.

Jockey Frank Lovato had his hands full when Gone Fishin ran on the lead in an about 1 1/16-mile race last time. Lovato slowed the half-mile pace down to 49 seconds, but Gone Fishin was pulling hard all the way down the backstretch and around the far turn. Clear early in the stretch, Gone Fishin didn't have enough energy left to hold off Storybook Kid's late charge, but finished beaten only a neck.

At about 5 1/2 furlongs, Gone Fishin can settle into a more comfortable stalking position on Thursday. In this stretch run he should be the hunter, not the hunted.

The horse he has to catch is Aloha Bold, who drops in for a $75,000 claiming tag somewhat abruptly, having finished fourth last time out in the Thanksgiving Day Handicap. Aloha Bold won the first four starts of his career and has won 7 of 13 overall, while proving himself equally capable on turf or dirt. There are other pace factors in this race, but Aloha Bold may simply be a faster horse than his rivals.

Three-year-old maiden fillies are in race 7, and bettors can choose from a couple of horses who ran well in their career debuts, as well as a bevy of interesting first-time starters. Lorena Maria made her debut on Nov. 29 at Churchill Downs, where she settled in behind a fast pace and took the lead in the stretch, but was run down late and finished second. Lorena Marie's three Fair Grounds workouts include a half-mile bullet here on Jan. 6.

Crow Jane was third here in her career debut, but must overcome a tough draw on the rail. Outside of her are first-time starters Queen Mindy, Queen Maya, Real Bear, Lil's A Real Lady, Elegant Prospect, and Coronda Rose.

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