03/12/2007 11:00PM

Appealing Zophie to undergo myectomy

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Steve Asmussen prefers not to make excuses when he sends out a losing horse. He even declined to do so for Appealing Zophie, though she might have had a significant one for finishing last of eight Saturday in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

"It is what it is - a bad day," Asmussen said Tuesday of Appealing Zophie's disappointing effort. But Asmussen added that this week Appealing Zophie would undergo a myectomy, a routine surgical process that can keep a horse from losing her air during the stress of a race.

If Appealing Zophie flipped her soft palate and lost her air in the Fair Grounds Oaks, a sizzling early pace could have contributed to it. Appealing Zophie had the lead through a half-mile in about 50 seconds when she easily won the Feb. 11 Silverbulletday; this time, she tracked a half-mile fraction of 46.99 seconds before fading badly. Amazingly, the horse setting the pace, California-based Mistical Plan, was never threatened while winning by more than three lengths.

The Asmussen-trained Zanjero did better in Saturday's Louisiana Derby, finishing third, and Asmussen will have horses in upcoming 3-year-old stakes in Arkansas and New Mexico. And at Fair Grounds, Asmussen's most accomplished 3-year-old, Tiz Wonderful, has returned to training after an injured tendon had forced him to the sidelines. Tiz Wonderful won all three starts last year at 2, including a half-length victory over Sam F. Davis stakes winner Any Given Saturday in the Kentucky Jockey Club, but was hurt before he could make his 3-year-old debut.

Tiz Wonderful walked the shed row for several weeks while the tendon's healing was monitored. Now, he is taking one-mile jogs around the racetrack.

"Absolutely, it's good to have him back," said Asmussen, who added it was premature to consider when and where Tiz Wonderful might make his first start of the year.

King's Drama 'jogging sound'

King's Drama was pulled up on the backstretch of Saturday's Mervin Muniz Handicap, a rare blemish on what has been an excellent Fair Grounds meet for trainer Bobby Frankel.

King's Drama, the favorite in the Muniz, was taken out of the race by Edgar Prado about a half-mile from the finish, but didn't appear to have suffered any serious injury. Frankel said Tuesday that King's Drama might have injured a tendon sheath, but that the horse was "jogging sound," and would undergo further evaluation once he returned to California.

Frankel won two allowance races on Saturday's card, one with Piety, a horse he owns himself, the other with Dubai Gold, who looked like a horse to watch after easily beating second-level allowance horses in his first turf start. Frankel said Dubai Gold would come back in a Keeneland allowance race.

On Monday, the Frankel barn sent out its second debut winner of the meet, a 3-year-old named Mast Track - another horse Frankel himself owns - who impressively won a turf sprint by three lengths. Though the Frankel barn, overseen by Scott Hansen, has fewer starters than any other among the top 20 at the Fair Grounds meet, Frankel is 12th in the trainer standings with 12 victories - not bad for a winter satellite operation.

"It's been an excellent meet so far," Frankel said. "Scott's doing a good job down there."

Smitty's Sunshine finds her niche

Smitty's Sunshine is a Louisiana-bred 3-year-old filly by the little-known stallion Seeking a Home. She also has been unbeatable in turf sprints, running her record in such races to 4 for 4 with a dominant win Saturday in the $100,000 Bienville Stakes.

"The way I've always felt about pedigree is, a runner's a runner," said Morris Nicks, who trains Smitty's Sunshine for owner Roger Smith.

Smitty's Sunshine isn't terrible on dirt, and she actually carried her speed a mile on turf winning a Louisiana Downs allowance race last fall, but going short on the grass clearly is her forte, and Smitty's Sunshine might be a better horse now than when she won the Pent Up Kiss Stakes by a half-length last Nov. 12 at Churchill.

"I've been real pleased with her performances this meet," said Nicks, who plans to send Smitty's Sunshine to Kentucky for her next stakes race, at either Keeneland or Churchill.

Smitty's Sunshine, 4, whom Nicks held out of her 2-year-old season so the filly could physically mature, has brilliant gate speed and has been on the lead in all her turf victories.

"I really think she enjoys doing that," Nicks said. "Some of them will run three-eighths hard and then quit. She just gets into another gear."