Brisnet Handicappers Edge Fair Grounds notes 1/8/10.

FAIR GROUNDS NOTEBOOK

JANUARY 7, 2010

by Frank Cotolo

Fair Grounds welcomed the new decade with five competitive days of racing, and one would never know that the surfaces were deluged a few weeks back based on the excellent conditions we witnessed on the dirt and the turf last week. Forty-nine races, 33 on dirt and 16 on the grass, were presented and the competition was stiff, with plenty of generous payouts and overlays as favorites won at a 22-percent clip.

SURFACE REPORT

Wire-to-wire winners scored at a decent 33 percent clip in both sprints and routes last week, and late runners were also very capable on the main track. Stalkers, those racing within a couple of lengths of the lead, surprisingly didn't perform as well as you might think. Horses were generally winning on the front end or from well off the pace.

On the turf, a stout late rally was the best way to get the bulk of a purse. Fifty-six percent of the winners from sprints and routes on the grass came from far behind, and there were just two wire-to-wire winners overall.

There was an anomaly last week on the turf that probably turned the heads of handicappers; first-time starters KYRIANA (Hold That Tiger) and SNAKEBITE KIT (Sky Classic) were both able to win at a grassy mile on the same day. You won't see first-time starters win going two turns on the turf very often, and I can't recall it ever happening twice on the same program. Kyriana, who won off the pace, and the front-running Snakebite Kit were unaware of the stats.

TRAINERS

Tom Amoss, who recorded the most wins two weeks back, led all conditioners with five victories last week. Bret Calhoun, Michelle Lovell and Richard Scherer came next with three each, and the prolific barn of Steve Margolis scored a pair of wins.

Besides Morris Nicks and Edward Johnston, trainers of Kyriana and Snakebite Kit, respectively, Bret Calhoun and Margolis were each successful with a first-time starter last week.

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (12/31)

1ST -- WALL OF WORRY (The Cliff's Edge) did not respond as the favorite, but the maiden was claimed for the Cody Autrey stable, so worry no longer.

3RD -- RODEO RACER (Rodeo) was an impressive first-timer, hot from post 10 with a rush to the front, and held for second at 27-1.

Friday (1/1)

1ST -- RUN FOR Z (Kimberlite Pike) put in a great first half at 31-1 and may do better sprinting unless let loose on the front as sole speed in a route.

2ND -- WALLOON (Alphabet Soup) won as the second choice in this turf affair and can maintain her form off the claim with new conditioner Lovell.

8TH -- CAT AT PLAY (Distorted Humor) sprinted well on the green, but a midrace duel played a big role in the loss.

Saturday (1/2)

9TH -- OKIE SOUVENIR (Souvenir Copy) flashed speed to three-quarters at 47-1 to the surprise of the crowd and appears to like this course.

Sunday (1/3)

3RD -- Kyriana, as noted above, won first time out of the box at a mile, a rarity, and should be a bet-back on the rise.

5TH -- Snakebite Kit, as noted above, doubled the freak show with a first-time win at a mile, producing another bet-back situation.

Monday (1/4)

5TH -- MISSISSIPPIRINCES (Abajo) deserves attention because this 112-1 shot had speed that kept up with the eventual winner, that one going wire to wire, and because this race was her second in nine days.

On the Louisiana worktab

Blue Grass S. (G1) hero GENERAL QUARTERS (Sky Mesa), runner-up against allowance/optional claiming rivals last out off a seven-month break, logged four furlongs in :50 2/5 over Fair Grounds' fast dirt on Thursday.

Grade 2 victress TIZAQUEENA (Tiznow), second in the First Lady S. (G1) in October, covered a half in :51 1/5.

Winning Colors S. (G3) scorer DUBAI MAJESTY (Essence of Dubai), fourth by just 2 1/2 lengths in the Chilukki S. (G2) last out, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5.

Grade 3 winner CHAMBERLAIN BRIDGE (War Chant), hero of the Turf Monster H. two back, breezed a half-mile in :48 3/5.

Grade 2 runner-up EL CABALLO (El Corredor), unraced since taking an allowance/optional claimer in June, posted five panels in 1:01 2/5.

Grade 3-placed Saylorville S. winner LADY CHACE (Tiznow), a three-length allowance/optional claiming scorer most recently, logged five-eighths in 1:01 2/5.

Delta Princess S. (G3) runner-up BELLA DIAMANTE (Lost Soldier) breezed a half-mile in :50 3/5 on Delta Downs' wet fast track.

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