02/03/2006 1:00AM

All eyes on Music School in '06 debut


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Music School is one of the most promising 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park because of his pedigree, impressive debut win, and connections. Sunday, he will make his seasonal and two-turn debut in the seventh race, a one-mile allowance.

Sunday's race will be the second career start for Music School, who was set to run last Saturday but was scratched from a six-furlong race after more than two inches of rain fell.

"I just felt off a layoff, running him in the slop, my gut feeling was telling me that it wasn't the right move," said Neil Howard, who trains Music School for Will Farish, James Elkins Jr., and W.T. Webber Jr.

was favored in his debut, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at Churchill Downs last June, in large part because he is closely related to 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft. He and Mineshaft share the same sire, A.P. Indy, and Music School is out of a half-sister to Mineshaft, stakes winner Delta Music. Jockey Robby Albarado guided Music School to a head win in the race.

"He stumbled real hard out of the gate, to the point where I didn't think Robby was going to be able to stay on him," said Howard.

The stumble is believed to have led to a small bone chip in Music School's left front ankle, which has since been removed. "We feel fairly sure that he just hyper extended so hard coming out of the gate that day that we think that's where he might have chipped," said Howard.

Music School has put in a nice series of endurance works for his return. "He's got a good foundation on him, some good gallops with some nice weekly two-minute licks in between the breezes," said Howard.

Howard is hoping Music School will develop into a candidate for the 3-year-old stakes series at Oaklawn. He is looking for a stalking trip on Sunday when Music School breaks from post 4 in the 11-horse field.

"I've worked him behind horses and he's been settling nice," said Howard. "I think he'll rate.

"Really, if I had to have any concern right now, I would just say we're at a point now that we have just a little lack of seasoning."

Music School will race with Lasix for the first time on Sunday.

Music School's chief rivals include , who both have already raced at the meet.