02/17/2007 1:00AM

Corrupt's layoff leaves a question

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NEW ORLEANS - Jamie Sanders had two horses entered in the $75,000 Mardi Gras Handicap Tuesday at Fair Grounds.

One of them, Teuflesberg, would have been a favorite in the 7 1/2-furlong grass race for 3-year-olds, but Sanders decided to run him Monday in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park instead.

"I was considering running him in the Mardi Gras Stakes right up to the point where I put him on the van this morning," Sanders said Saturday before the first race at Fair Grounds.

That makes Corrupt, who has won both of his starts, including the Grand Canyon Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25, the heavy favorite. The Grand Canyon was at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, but the cutback in distance should not be a factor, since the Mardi Gras also is a two-turn race.

Now Sanders will saddle a longshot in the race, Royal War Academy, who is a maiden competing against winners. Sanders admits it is a difficult task but she still thinks Royal War Academy has a shot.

"He's a very talented horse," she said. "I wouldn't put him in here if I didn't think he had a chance. He ran fifth in the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, and he really wasn't quite ready for it.

"The reason I put him in here is because it was a short field, and all of these maiden races he's been in have 12 horses. He's been a tough-luck horse. He's been in trouble in every one of his starts."

It may take more than a good trip to win this race, which includes several improving horses.

Corrupt, a Belong to Me colt, has done nothing wrong, winning his maiden impressively at a mile on the grass before graduating to stakes company, but he has been off for 10 weeks and may need the race. There will be plenty of opportunities for the talented colt down the road, so his trainer, Jeff Trosclair, doesn't have to have him totally wound up for this.

Mayor Bozarth has also won two turf races, beating another horse in the Mardi Gras Stakes, Tactical Weapon, by a nose last time out.

Awesome Hero is making his first grass start, but has won a pair of races on the Turfway Park Polytrack. Follow My Moon has traded decisions with Awesome Hero and is also trying grass for the first time. Sammy From Miami won his first two races before finishing fifth in the Triple Sec at Delta Downs. Jump'ien has finished just ahead of Royal War Academy in his last two starts.