03/19/2003 12:00AM

You Glitter Girl sharp for turf debut


NEW ORLEANS - It has not been easy to fill first-level allowance races for 3-year-olds this winter at Fair Grounds, so Friday's ninth-race feature, a second-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies, could have been a rare treat.

But it hasn't quite worked out that way. The eight horses that were signed on for a turf race at about 5 1/2 furlongs are thus far a relatively undistinguished group, and the race is wide open.

You Glitter Girl had the best last start of the bunch, but she has never set foot on a grass course, and her pedigree - by Glitterman out of a Great Gladiator mare - does not shout out turf. Still, her win here Feb. 27 in her first start since August was impressive. The race was supposed to feature the talented Bayou Mist, a debut winner from the Neil Howard barn that looked like she could be any kind of horse. But Bayou Mist finished sixth of seven, while You Glitter Girl battled on a solid pace before drawing away late for a 2 1/2-length win.

That's the way things have gone since about Jan. 1 for trainer Bret Calhoun, who has sent out 21 winners from 95 starters this meet and is battling for third place in the trainer standings. For trainer Sam David, the winter has been much more difficult. David typically wins his share of races here, but has struggled to get his barn started this season and enters this week's racing with only three wins.

Sea Bloom could get David another win. Sea Bloom has lost her last two starts by a combined 53 lengths, but both were stakes races on dirt, and Sea Bloom won her only turf start, the $100,000 La Senorita Stakes last summer at Retama Park. That race was at one mile, but Sea Bloom has run well in sprints and fits Friday's race.

But the list of contenders doesn't stop there. Spring Rush also has been crunched in her last two starts, but she also drops in class and makes her turf debut with a pedigree that suggests grass can help. Eastern Memory was a game winner of a highly restricted stakes race in her last start, and ran fairly well while beating males. Ziarita won a one-mile turf allowance race the last time she ran and has trained steadily for the Bill Badgett barn. Cheryl's Myth has run twice on turf and performed well both times.

Sweet Will's Joy and Gender Dance complete the lineup.

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