12/17/2008 12:00AM

Vote Early's late run looks good

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Partly by design and partly by evolving local tradition, Friday nights produce easily the most convivial atmosphere during live race meets at Turfway Park.

Offering $1 specials and live music with the intent of drawing a younger crowd, Turfway transforms from little more than a simulcast factory to a vibrant, happening place on Friday nights. Dollar Fridays, which were recently named by Cincinnati Magazine as Best Cheap Date in its annual Best of the City poll, are when you can challenge the disc jockey named Meat in head-to-head handicapping or simply kick back to a band named Naked Karate Girls.

Or you could notice how the caliber of racing tends to get raised a notch or two for the occasion. That's certainly the case on this particular Friday, when a $31,000 allowance for fillies and mares is carded as a notable exception to the normal diet of lower-level claiming events.

The race in point is the ninth of 11, a six-furlong allowance with absolutely no restrictions. The winner of the 2008 Queen Stakes, Pola's Place, looks like the one to catch in a field of eight, although it is Vote Early, winner of the 2008 Weekend Delight and more recently the runner-up in the Holiday Inaugural, who surely will take the heaviest action.

Like many 5-year-old mares at this late stage of the game, Vote Early is on her way to the breeding shed, although the Klein family of Louisville has opted to race her at least once more. An earner of a little more than $225,000, Vote Early will race in the name of Helen Pitts after having been trained earlier in her career by Steve Flint, then Steve Margolis.

Vote Early, with Rodney Prescott riding from post 7, could be tough to contain with her usual stretch run. There would seem to be ample opposing speed to facilitate that move, given the presence of Pola's Place (Tommy Pompell, post 2) and maybe a couple of others, most notably Fancy Diamond (Tracy Hebert, post 5), who exits an 11-length triumph over cheaper over the Turfway Polytrack surface two Fridays ago.

First post Friday is 7 p.m. Eastern.