11/22/2005 1:00AM

Zarb's Dahar has home edge

Lone Star Park
The front-running Rodeo's Castle will make his first start since August.

If you did not know the Fair Grounds meet was up and running, now you have no excuse. The $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap, which is the track's traditional opening-day feature, will go on Thursday, but it comes during the second week of a Fair Grounds meet being held at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., because of damage to the New Orleans track from Hurricane Katrina.

is 9 for 10 over the Louisiana Downs strip and should go favored in the Thanksgiving Handicap, which drew a field of seven. The Niner Account is the 119-pound highweight for the six-furlong race, but he will likely scratch in favor of a Friday allowance at his home base of Remington Park, said his trainer, Martin Lozano.

Louisiana Downs is home for Zarb's Dahar, and he can get a beautiful stalking trip in the Thanksgiving from post 7. There is no shortage of speed to his inside, thanks to horses like , a front-running stakes winner who will be making his first start since a fifth-place finish in the $150,000 Arlington Sprint in August.

"I like the post, I really do," said James Hodges, who trains Zarb's Dahar for Foxwood Plantation. "Out there, he can break and do whatever he needs to do."

Zarb's Dahar last raced on Sept. 17, and was on the pace for a four-length win in the $78,000 Cajun for Louisiana-breds at Louisiana Downs. One start earlier, he rallied from off the pace to defeat open company in the $56,000 Folklore, also at Louisiana Downs.

"He'll stalk, he'll go to the front - it doesn't matter with him," said regular rider Gerard Melancon.

Zarb's Dahar will be racing on Thursday with a bar shoe on his right hind foot to protect a quarter crack. An old injury, it flared up recently.

"The last couple of times we worked him it was all right, so we're hoping he'll run good on it," said Hodges. "I feel like he will."

Zarb's Dahar, in his final preparations for the Thanksgiving, worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.40 seconds Nov. 4, and a half-mile in 49.40 seconds Nov. 20.

is another horse who can take advantage if the pace is hot Thursday. He was claimed for $50,000 out of his last start, a seven-furlong race at Keeneland on Oct. 16, in which he rallied for a 4 3/4-length win. Trainer Cody Autrey has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.