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Brisnet Handicappers Edge Fair Grounds notes 1/23/10.

TRACK BANDIT PREVIEWS

Saturday's Lecomte S. (G3) is the first of three graded preps at Fair Grounds for Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls, and a competitive-looking field of 11 will enter the starting gate for the mile-and-40-yard event.

CITRUS KID (Lemon Drop Kid) ships in from Florida for John Terranova off a bullet half-mile work at Palm Meadows, and we'll give the speedy colt top billing. After a convincing maiden tally at Delaware Park in his second career start, the dark bay made short work of his rivals in his stakes debut, winning the 1 1/16-mile Dover by five lengths. He was transferred to Terranova off that score and wrapped up his juvenile campaign with a solid third in the nine-furlong Remsen S. (G2), setting the early pace before surrendering to the ultra-impressive Buddy's Saint (Saint Liam). There doesn't appear to be any rivals of that caliber in this field, and the Kentucky-bred looks capable of dictating the tempo on the front end with his quickness. If somebody else wants the early advantage, Citrus Kid can sit just off the speed with Miguel Mena before asserting himself.

MAXIMUS RULER (Roman Ruler) is a dangerous threat from the rail. A fast-closing, neck third in his career debut at Churchill Downs last fall, he jumped straight to allowance company to break his maiden under the Twin Spires in his latest outing, registering a 93 BRIS Speed rating that is very respectable in this spot. The Clark Hanna runner has been training steadily for his return, posting a quick six-furlong breeze two works back, and we love the turn of foot that he's displayed in his first two starts. He'll be rolling late under Francisco Torres.

WORLDLY (A.P. Indy) is another win contender. After narrowly breaking his maiden three back, the Paul McGee charge concluded last year with a third in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2). He received a good tightener for this event when finishing second by a length to the promising Stay Put (Broken Vow) in a January 3 allowance at Fair Grounds, earning a 102 BRIS Late Pace rating, and should sit a perfect trip just off the early leaders with Robby Albarado. The bay could get the jump on the late runners, and it won't be a surprise to see the improving colt wind up in the winner's circle.

LETSGETITONMOM (Maria's Mon) rallied for third last time against Stay Put and is eligible to keep improving off that performance for Steve Asmussen. He wasn't a serious factor in many of his juvenile starts, but the gray always seemed to put himself in position to challenge and received a career-best 112 BRIS Late Pace last time. We give him a fine chance to grab part under Shaun Bridgmohan.

TURF MELODY (Maria's Mon) has a two-race win streak in tow, capturing the Springboard Mile S. at Remington Park most recently, and has won his last three starts on dirt. His BRIS numbers are a little light and the bay colt will be tested for class in this spot, but the stalker has proven very honest and could offer a rally for a minor award. RON THE GREEK (Full Mandate) is poorly drawn on the far outside. He wasn't a serious factor when finishing fourth against Turf Melody last time, but the late runner did earn a pair of 108 BRIS Late Pace ratings when capturing his first two career starts at Hoosier Park and Delta Downs. He doesn't look fast enough to challenge for the win, but he's got a strong closing kick and will probably be seriously overlooked in the wagering. We'll throw him on the bottom of a couple of exotics at long odds.

CALLIDE VALLEY (Indian Charlie) wrapped up last year with a fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club and will be equipped with blinkers for his three-year-old debut. Trainer Eddie Kenneally, who wins at a 19 percent clip with first-time blinkers, has already shipped in and won a race from his South Florida base, but Callide Valley may not be fast enough to get the job done in this spot. He raced close to the pace in his two career wins and looks like a potential forward factor here with Corey Lanerie, so we can't completely dismiss his chances for the top three. DEPAUL (Dixieland Band) rolled to a 5 1/4-length maiden win at Calder in late August but wasn't seen again until January, returning with a dull effort in the aforementioned allowance versus Stay Put. He needs to improve significantly off that effort to make his presence felt here.

COOL BULLET (Red Bullet) is bred to handle a route, but he appears better-suited to shorter distances at this point in his career. We have a ton of respect for the job Steve Margolis has done this meet and won't be shocked to see this one outperform our expectations off a good win in the Sugar Bowl S., but we'll take a stand against the promising sprinter. B'WANAGOLDMINE (Bwana Charlie) and ROCK HARD (Menifee) don't look fast enough to make an impact.

TRACK BANDIT SELECTIONS: 1st-CITRUS KID  2nd-MAXIMUS RULER  3rd-WORLDLY

 

A field of eight, one of which is a main-track only entrant, is set to go the about 1 1/16 miles on the Fair Grounds sod in Saturday's $100,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley H. (G3).We're taking a shot with the lightly-raced TYBALT (Storm Cat) in this wide-open event. The well-bred bay made a huge impression on us when arriving in the spring of 2008, crushing allowance foes prior to a pair of solid runner-up finishes, the latter coming in the Oak Tree Mile (G2), a neck behind Grade 1 star Hyperbaric (Sky Classic), in which he earned a 113 BRIS Late Pace rating. While the Kentucky-bred showed very little when returning from a lengthy break in the fall, we expect him to fire his best shot in this one for trainer Michael Stidham. Pat Valenzuela has the assignment.

EL CABALLO (El Corredor) is a nose from being a Grade 2 winner on this oval and looks like a legitimate favorite in this field for trainer Ralph Nicks. The late-blooming six-year-old has really transformed into a new runner since trying the lawn six starts back, posting BRIS Speed figures of 102, 97 and 102 in his last three tests. We expect Robby Albarado to sit in second early before trying to take over this race turning for home.

PRINCEVILLE CONDO (Morluc) has never missed the board in 10 lifetime outings, all on the sod, and has six wins to show for it including a nice prep score for this on the grass oval. The Illinois-bred gelding earned a lifetime-best 97 BRIS Speed number in his lone try to date over this course and is a proven commodity over any kind of ground, so we'll surely include this one in our gimmicks under Francisco Torres.

SWAINS NEWS (Swain [Ire]) is capable of big efforts on his best day and finished a respectable third in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial H. in advance of this for conditioner Allen Milligan. The speedy six-year-old could go for the lead in this race and might get it, so if he's allowed to dawdle on the front with minimal or no pressure, he can get brave on the lead. We'll use the bay in our multi-race tickets at a price.

VANQUISHER (Gulch) has posted triple-digit BRIS Late Pace figures in seven of his last nine starts and should find this lengthy stretch to his liking for trainer Gregory Griffith. We fear that the pace might not set up his late kick, so we'll pass on the Florida-bred winning, but we won't dissuade anyone from using him in vertical plays. TEND (Dynaformer) would be making his turf debut, if conditioner Albert Stall Jr. opts for this spot instead of the Louisiana H. later on the card. The gelded five-year-old clearly has some talent, but he has failed to win in seven starts dating back to December of 2008 and has picked a tricky spot to notch his first career turf race. We won't totally dismiss the Kentucky-bred's chances for a minor award, though.

GET RICH QUICK (Seeking the Gold) has been consistent if nothing else, but we have to go back more than a year to find the last triumph for the Malcolm Pierce trainee. We do note the fact that the local record for the six-year-old at Fair Grounds is a strong 8-3-2-0, but we still have trouble endorsing the gray. Ack Ack H. (G3) runner-up GLAMOUR GUY (E Dubai) will be the one to beat if this race is transferred to dirt.

TRACK BANDIT SELECTIONS: 1st-TYBALT  2nd-EL CABALLO  3rd-PRINCEVILLE CONDO

 

Fair Grounds' "Road to the Derby Kickoff Day" features four other stakes besides the Lecomte S. (G3) and Col. E.R. Bradley H. (G3) on Saturday. The $75,000 Tiffany Lass S. at one mile and 40 yards, the filly counterpart to the Lecomte, features the exciting QUIET TEMPER (Quiet American), who broke her maiden in taking the Delta Princess S. (G3) by nearly eight lengths two back. The Dale Romans pupil returned earlier this month to waltz around the Fair Grounds strip in taking a first-level allowance by 1 1/4 lengths while under the mildest encouragement from Robby Albarado. VISAVIS (Indian Charlie) and SHEER BEAUTY (Mizzen Mast), second and third, respectively, in the Letellier Memorial S., might have the strongest chance at an upset...

Perhaps the most anticipated race on Saturday's undercard, the $75,000 Louisiana H. at 1 1/16 miles, features a meeting of former classic candidates FRIESAN FIRE (A.P. Indy) and GENERAL QUARTERS (Sky Mesa). Friesan Fire went favored in the Kentucky Derby (G1) last year following his sweep of the Lecomte, Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, but beat only one of his rivals over the sloppy Churchill strip and didn't fare a whole lot better two weeks later in the Preakness S. (G1). Also far back in the first two classics was General Quarters, who took the Blue Grass S. (G1) and Sam F. Davis S. (G3) prior to the Run for the Roses. Both Friesan Fire and General Quarters enter the Louisiana off allowance/optional claiming losses. Friesan Fire was six lengths third to reigning Louisiana H. winner GOOD AND LUCKY (Wild Rush) on December 3, while General Quarters fell short by just a half-length in his six-furlong comebacker the day after Christmas. In addition to Tend and Good and Lucky, who went on to capture the Tenacious H., the Louisiana has also attracted SECRET GETAWAY (Skip Away), a notable stakes performer at Fair Grounds whose scorecard includes a second to Macho Again (Macho Uno) in last year's New Orleans H. (G2)...

A strong field of older sprinters will dash six furlongs at Fair Grounds in the $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial S. EUROEARS (Langfuhr), undefeated in three prior stakes engagements over the track, should have his hands full with the lightly-raced four-year-old CASH REFUND (Petionville), whose only loss in four starts was to Capt. Candyman Can (Candy Ride [Arg]) in the Matt Winn S. last May. GRAND TRAVERSE (Pioneering) exits a win in the grassy Bonapaw S., while Fair Grounds lover SOK SOK (Trippi) hopes to rebound to the form that saw him win the Duncan F. Kenner S. last spring over dual Eclipse Award nominee Kodiak Kowboy. Among the 12 fillies and mares in the $75,000 Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial S. at about 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf are COY CAT (Hold That Tiger) and LADY CHACE (Tiznow), the one-two finishers of the course-and-distance Bienville S. last March, and TRUSTY TEMPER (Successful Appeal), last seen taking the Jostle S. in June over recent American Beauty S. winner Northern Belle (Northern Afleet). There is an early post time of 12:10 p.m. (CST) on Saturday...

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