09/04/2001 12:00AM

Ball in Tiznow's court


DEL MAR, Calif. - Point Given might be the leading contender for Horse of the Year, but he can no longer answer any challenges to that title. That is why this weekend's comeback race is so crucial for Tiznow, the reigning Horse of the Year, who on Tuesday flew from California to New York for his long-awaited return to racing in Saturday's $500,000 Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park.

Tiznow left before dawn Tuesday morning from Del Mar, and arrived at Belmont Park Tuesday afternoon. His trainer, Jay Robbins, flew on a commercial flight and was to meet up with Tiznow on Tuesday evening.

Tiznow has not raced since capturing the Santa Anita Handicap in March. He was plagued by back trouble late this spring and into the early summer, but has trained sensationally in recent weeks at Del Mar. His jockey, Chris McCarron, has been aboard Tiznow for all his workouts and has been thrilled with Tiznow's progression.

Last year, Tiznow swept three races late in the year, including the Breeders' Cup Classic, to capture Horse of the Year. His goal this year is to become the first horse to win the Classic twice.

The Woodward is shaping up as a terrific race. In addition to Tiznow, the field is expected to include Lido Palace and Albert the Great, the one-two finishers in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, and Red Bullet, the 2000 Preakness Stakes winner.

Lido Palace is trained by the red-hot Bobby Frankel, who won Monday's closing-day Diana Handicap at Saratoga with Starine. Frankel also won stakes with Aptitude, Flute, Squirtle Squirt, and You at Saratoga.

Albert the Great is returning to his favorite racetrack. He is 6 for 7 at Belmont, his lone loss coming in last year's Jerome Handicap against Fusaichi Pegasus.

Red Bullet recently returned from a lengthy layoff to win an allowance race at Saratoga. His trainer, Joe Orseno, started slowly this year, but has been firing bullets lately, including a victory by Macho Uno in Monday's Pennsylvania Derby.

Tiznow is among a large contingent of California-based horses headed out of town for races this weekend. Fusaichi Zenon, trained by Neil Drysdale, is scheduled to run in Saturday's Man O' War Stakes on the Belmont Park turf. Drysdale also sent Irish Prize to Woodbine for Sunday's Atto Mile.