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Brisnet Handicappers Edge Fair Grounds notes 1/29/10.

Saturday's $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial H. at Fair Grounds has drawn a field of 12 fillies and mares, including one main-track-only candidate, and seven of them exit the January 2 Furl Sail H. over the same course and distance of about 1 1/16 miles on the turf. NEVER RETREAT (Smart Strike) was disqualified from first in the Furl Sail and placed second for brushing with CATEGORY SEVEN (Gulf Storm) in the final furlong, and with the pair more than three lengths ahead of their nearest rival, FINAL REFRAIN (Lion Cavern), it is expected those two will be favored in the pari-mutuel market. Two entrants who fared poorly in the Furl Sail, trailer LOVE TO TELL (Stage Colony) and fifth-placer DANCIN PERFECT (Pleasantly Perfect), are capable of better. Love to Tell stopped badly in the stretch of the Furl Sail, but is a multiple stakes winner over the surface, including last year's Bayou H. Dancin Perfect, like Love to Tell a former winner of the Pago Hop S., saw her late rally in the Furl Sail fall flat after dropping further off the pace than usual. In the event of a washout, the main-track-only BUBBLER (Distorted Humor) would move up in consideration given her three-for-three mark on dirt, which includes a score in the Gallery Furniture Distaff S. at Sam Houston...

FAIR GROUNDS NOTEBOOK

JANUARY 29, 2010

by Frank Cotolo

Forty races went to post from January 22 through January 25 at Fair Grounds with one very thick, muddy day's worth of events on January 24. Still, the public was sharp as a tack, producing 43-percent winning favorites. To add the second and third choices in the mix would make the crowd look extremely intelligent as well as compliment the form involved in the 40 events.

Turf racing returned after a week's absence, with only one sprint in seven events. Those races took place in the first half of the week, before the rains made muck out of Sunday and kept the rest of the week's action on the mud. A fast track didn't return until January 25.

On the surface

When the week began there were no horses able to sprint or carry their speed in a route on top throughout. On January 22 only three horses in nine events were able to be anywhere near the top and win. The remainder of the winners came from off the pace, some of them from far behind. That included four turf routes on the program.

Saturday's big stakes program was more generous to speed. Five of 13 races went wire to wire, four of them sprints (each were six furlongs). One six-panel race, however, was an off-the-pace win.

The muddy conditions of Sunday were typically kind to those horses staying out of the mud-flinging, as four races were taken wire to wire, three close to the pace and only two from reasonably far back.

All in all on the dirt and mud, 33 percent of the week went to wire-to-wire jobs while 39 percent went to closers and 27 percent won stalking close to pacesetters. Turf wins were 71 percent off the pace with two stalking winners.

Trainers

Steve Asmussen is in no danger of losing the trainer's title on raw wins and probably on earnings but in the last two weeks he has also improved his win percentage. He had five winners on the week, which came after last week's three and the week before when he scooped with seven.

Michael Stidham equaled Asmussen's total this week with five winners, one of them the only first-time starter of the week during the usual onslaught of maiden races.

Also impressive was a three-race winning streak from Ronny Werner in January 24's mudfest. Doubling were Sam David Jr., Howard Alonzo and Tom Amoss.

HORSES TO WATCH

Friday (1/22)

5TH -- LACY TOO (Autocracy) was lazy to start and mysteriously disinterested for a contender. Call this one a clunker and try again under the same circumstances.

7TH -- KIPPER ZAK (Kipper Kelly) loved flying along the rail at 20-1 and almost produced a big upset, getting second.

Saturday (1/23)

1ST -- STEVENDER (Millennium Wind) was sharp with speed to the stretch. This 6-1 maiden was eventually caught by four but made a strong showing at six panels.

3RD -- HENCEFORTH (Hennessy) galloped a zigzag path in a tough ride and yet was best of the eight behind him.

5TH -- HARBIN (Gone West) displayed a bevy of speed for a youngster, going to midstretch confidently at 19-1.

Sunday (1/24)

1ST -- WIN BACK (Esplanade Ridge) closed well in the thick goop going five furlongs as a 13-1 shot.

3RD -- LADY ALEYA (Dream Tripper) was stalking well at 43-1 but didn't seem to like the muck enough to have the stamina for a mile and 40 yards.

Monday (1/25)

3RD -- BETTERTHANFICTION (Yes It's True) rallied late with gusto after a slow start in a claimer two furlongs short of a mile.

8TH -- FORMAGGIO (Dynaformer) was a first-time starter showing courage winning off the pace against maidens with experience, though losing experience. A good bet back.

On the Louisiana worktab

Spinaway S. (G1) winner and Eclipse Award finalist HOT DIXIE CHICK (Dixie Union) breezed four furlongs in :52 over the fast main track at Fair Grounds on Wednesday for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Asmussen also sent out DASHING DEBBY (Medaglia d'Oro) to work in :51 3/5. She was unplaced in the Matron S. (G2) and Adirondack S. (G2) after romping by 10 1/4 lengths in the J J'sdream S. in her debut.

Grade 3 veteran TRANSDUCTION GOLD (Formal Gold), unplaced in his last four, covered five-eighths in 1:03 2/5.

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