12/01/2004 1:00AM

Don't judge this colt by his time


It seemed last Saturday at Fair Grounds that the horses had contracted a serious case of that debilitating ailment known as The Slows.

It is true there weren't any exceedingly fast entrants in Saturday's second race, but still: When was the last time the winning horse at a racetrack outside Montana ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:08.68?

What was going on here? The meet had dawned on Thanksgiving, two days earlier, with fairly typical conditions. Fair Grounds almost never is a speed palace, and when horses of the cheaper variety kicked off the meet with six furlongs in 1:11.23, you could have called the racing surface quick.

A couple shifts of the wind later, and we were witnessing racing on a beach. In fact, the track was almost as slow as trainer Danny Peitz's summer.

"A couple months ago I was waiting for them to do one of those 'Where are they now' pieces on me," Peitz said Wednesday morning, jovial as usual.

Peitz had actually not disappeared - though at times during an interminable summer in New York, he might have wished he had.

"I must have had seven or eight horses hurt," he said. "For sure, it was my worst summer ever. It was one to forget."

Perhaps seeking solace, Peitz would wander down the shed row to peek in on a 2-year-old colt named Biloxi Palace. There, at least, stood hope.

Biloxi Palace is by Seattle Slew, from the last full crop of the great champion, and is out of the mare Mining My Business, the property of Robert and Lawana Low, longtime Peitz clients. When the mating between these horses was planned, a filly out of Mining My Business named Real Cozzy had started showing her mettle, and when Real Cozzy panned out, and Mining My Business threw a handsome colt, well, this is the reason the Lows are in business.

A Florida horseman named Tom McCrocklin inspects the Lows' foals each spring, and goes about the business of breaking them the next season.

"Tom told Mr. and Mrs. Low that this was the best-looking horse they had ever bred," Peitz recalled. "Robert always said he thought if he had a real nice colt he could ring the bell with, he would take a shot at selling him. Tom told him this could be the one - the million-dollar type."

In the end, the Lows declined to sell. And there on Saturday, slogging his way through a modest six furlongs in 1:12.18, was Biloxi Palace, winning his maiden in his third start.

"Your first impression, you look at the time," Peitz said. "Twelve and one - well, that's not real impressive. But when I took a look and saw how slow the other times were, I thought, you know, this is going to be pretty fast."

Yes, that slow six furlongs turned out actually to be the race of the day. It earned Biloxi Palace a 92 Beyer Speed Figure and put him back on track after a disappointing fifth three weeks before at Aqueduct.

"I'd like to be able to get a two-turn allowance race to go," said Peitz, thinking forward to the one-mile Lecomte Stakes early next year. "I think he'll go two turns. He's settled and all that. Real Cozzy, a mile and a sixteenth was probably her best distance. Her mother was seven-eighths to a mile. Do I have some concerns with this horse? Not at a mile and a sixteenth, but maybe at a mile and a quarter."

Surely Peitz and the Lows would take their chance at the classic distance - were it offered them. And there is another hot prospect in the barn, the first foal out of Grade 1 winner Capote Belle, a filly by Storm Cat due to debut any day.

"Hopefully things are going to come together and I'm going to win some races down here," Peitz said.

They seem to be - quite fast, in fact.