01/12/2008 12:00AM

Curlin, Pyro get in works

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NEW ORLEANS - Curlin and Pyro worked Saturday morning at Fair Grounds, each taking steps forward in Steve Asmussen's training regimen.

Curlin went four furlongs in 51.20 seconds, breezing, more than two seconds better than his last work, which came at the same distance.

His last work, on Jan. 6, was timed in 53.40 seconds and was his first official workout of the year, coming after a series of two-minute licks.

"He looked like Curlin," said Asmussen. "We're just adding to where he's at."

Asmussen remained noncommittal about plans for Curlin, the presumptive Horse of the Year, but it is becoming clearer that he will race this year rather than retire to stud.

When asked about specific plans to run Curlin, Asmussen deferred to the horse: "We'll have to see when he's ready to run."

Pyro worked the half-mile in 51.80 seconds, a big step forward after an effort last Sunday' that was too slow to qualify as an official workout.

"He did much better than last week," said Asmussen. "Hopefully he's ready to come around and do something."

Pyro, who finished second in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile, is training toward the Risen Star, to be run Feb. 9 at Fair Grounds.

Chinchilla raring to go

After getting ready to run two weeks ago, then scratched when the race came off the turf, Chinchilla has been fractious in the barn.

But with good weather predicted for Monday's feature race, a 5 1/2-furlong first-level allowance for fillies and mares on the turf, Chinchilla will get her chance to run.

"She's anxious to run," said trainer Alice Cohn. "She gets to feeling good in the barn, and she rears up and acts like a stallion."

Chinchilla looks to be well placed in this group, with her last outing a near-miss at this condition at the Fair Grounds on Nov. 23. She never showed any interest in the race before that, the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland.

Chinchilla has not had an official workout since that Nov. 23 race, but Cohn says she's ready to run.

"She doesn't need that much once she is fit," said Cohn. "We've just given her two-minute licks."

Also coming back to the races after six weeks off is the Thomas Proctor-trained Whitefish.