10/01/2007 12:00AM

Dual role helps Fox rehabilitate horses with problems

EmailIf you are going to be successful as a horse owner it helps to have a good trainer, and a good veterinarian. It is especially advantageous if they happen to be the same person. That is the case with Greg Fox, 45, a veterinarian who began training horses 2 1/2 years ago. The combination of those two skills helps him to spot small problems with his horses and to address them quickly before they become big problems.

Fox manages to stay busy throughout the year. He trains 24 horses his farm, the Fox Stable, located near the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky.

"Then during the sales I am also a veterinary consultant to a couple of clients, including one major one, Gulf Coast Farms," Fox said.

Fox has a wide variety of horses in his barn, from graded-stakes-quality to a $15,000 claimer eligible for a nonwinners-of-three. That includes about a half-dozen 2-year-olds, and a couple of horses who are returning from injuries.

"I love training old class horses who used to be very good, the typical starter allowance horse," Fox said. "I owned a couple of those and had good luck with them. I also like training horses who have some proven ability who have developed problems. I try to bring them back. I've had the most success so far with those horses."

When taking a look at Fox's return on investment statistics in different training categories, handicappers must keep in mind that some of his numbers have been heavily influenced by an $83 win by Slew's Tizzy in the Grade 2 Lexington at Keeneland. It's probably wise to give preference to the profitable categories where he also has an above-average win percentage.

Fox is especially good at winning allowance races. He shows 22 percent wins from 46 starters, with a $2.87 ROI. When asked to explain why he does so well in allowance races, the answer was simple.

"When I run a horse in a claiming race, it's not a good sign," Fox said.

The numbers back that up. Bets on his starters in claiming races win 14 percent of their races, but return just $1.06.

"The claiming business is a business of turning horses over during the short term," Fox said. "The style of care that we specialize in puts a great emphasis on physical therapy. Those things take more time to achieve results. But the problems get resolved in a long-term way more often than not."

Fox's best horse is Slew's Tizzy, who had a very rough trip as an 82-1 longshot in the Grade 3 Risen Star, his first try against winners. A horse in front of him was stopping and Slew's Tizzy clipped heels and went down.

Robby Albarado was aboard Notional in the Risen Star, and later told Fox he saw that Slew's Tizzy appeared to be going strongly in the race at the time he went down. For that reason, despite a subsequent off-the-board finish in the Louisiana Derby, Albarado accepted the mount on Slew's Tizzy, a 40-1 longshot, in the Lexington. It was a good decision as Slew's Tizzy, whose blinkers were removed for the race, rated kindly on the lead and drew away to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Next up was a victory as the favorite in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby.

Unfortunately, Slew's Tizzy displaced his palate in the Belmont and also in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby, so the decision was made to give him a myectomy, an operation that cuts throat muscles to change the position of the larynx in the airway.

Slew's Tizzy ran an improved race while finishing fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby following the surgery, and is expected to make his next start in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby on Oct. 6. After that, a start in the Grade 3 Fayette at Keeneland is possible.