03/11/2007 11:00PM

Einstein's win rough on his trainer


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A quarter-mile into Saturday's Mervin H. Muniz Handicap at the Fair Grounds, trainer Helen Pitts's heart was in her throat. A half-mile into the race and it was a wonder she had any pulse at all after watching all the trouble her Grade 1 winner Einstein had encountered.

But to his credit, Einstein overcame every obstacle thrown his way and went on to a gutsy 1 1/2-length victory over Cloudy's Knight in the Grade 2 Muniz.

Einstein, ridden by Robby Albarado, was carried six wide into the first turn then had to check and alter course to avoid 9-5 favorite King's Drama, who was pulled up midway down the backstretch. At that point, Pitts was having a case of deja vu thinking back to the wide trip her horse had here two weeks earlier when he finished a game third in defense of his title in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap.

"I admit I was having flashbacks to the last race at Gulfstream when he got hung wide like that into the first turn," Pitts said by phone from Kentucky on Monday. "It looked like the same thing all over again."

When Einstein was impeded by King's Drama, Pitts thought something might have happened to him.

"I was dying by then," she said. "Luckily that incident happened on the straightaway and Robby had time to get him back down inside before the second turn. And when they turned for home he just came running. He's such a neat horse and has to be pretty special to overcome all that he did and still win."

After two hard races in two weeks, Einstein will return to south Florida and get a little break before gearing up for the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs May 5.

Good matchup in Shirley Jones

Pitts will have a chance for another stakes victory here Saturday when she sends out Leah's Secret in the Grade 2 Shirley Jones Breeders' Cup Handicap. Leah's Secret is coming off an eventful trip of her own when she finished fifth following a very slow start in Laurel's Barbara Fritchie Handicap.

The Shirley Jones is coming up a strong race, with Leah's Secret expected to face both Any Limit, already a two-time stakes winner at the meet, and the Grade 1 stakes-placed Stormy Kiss.

Any Limit worked five furlongs in 1:00 on Monday as she gears up for what could be a sweep of the three filly-and-mare sprint stakes at the meet. A daughter of Limit Out trained by Allen Jerkens, Any Limit has already won the Grade 3 First Lady and Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie handicaps.

"She worked okay, but if she doesn't go good the rest of the week I won't run her," said Jerkens. "Win or lose, this will be enough for her for a while."

Less than 24 hours earlier, he had sent out Miss Shop and Swap Fliparoo to finish first and third in Sunday's Grade 2 Rampart Handicap. Round Pond, making her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff, finished fourth as the heavy favorite.

Miss Shop was returning on one week's rest after finishing fifth in the Honey Fox Handicap on turf the previous Sunday.

"Wonders never cease," Jerkens said with a smile. "I only ran Miss Shop because I was afraid the other filly might not get a mile and one-eighth. I thought Swap Fliparoo actually did pretty good, though, since she went pretty wide into the stretch. She also seemed a little upset and didn't want to go into the gate. This is enough for her for a while. Actually for both fillies. I probably won't do anything with either of them until Belmont."

Jerkens also worked Blue Bullet five furlongs in 59.20 seconds here Monday. He wanted to run Blue Bullet in a seven-furlong allowance here on Thursday, but the race didn't fill, so Jerkens will instead point Blue Bullet for the $175,000 Aventura Stakes at the same distance on March 31.

'Nobiz' more focused with blinkers

Nobiz Like Shobiz galloped again with blinkers on shortly after 8 a.m. on Monday and is scheduled to breeze on Wednesday, according to trainer Barclay Tagg. It will be his first work since he finished third as the favorite in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

"It will be just a little easy maintenance work," said Tagg. "He never really does anything wrong in the morning, but the exercise rider says he seems to pay attention more with blinkers, and I think they will help keep him a little more focused when he runs."

Nobiz Like Shobiz is scheduled to make his next start in the Wood Memorial on April 7.

Bridgmohan named on return mounts

Jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan has been named on three horses for Thursday's card, his first mounts since fracturing his collarbone in a frightening spill during a turf race on opening day of the meet.

Bridgmohan, who established a new Tropical at Calder win mark to close out his 2006 campaign, has been given an extension on his apprentice allowance that will run until late fall.

$310 winner a superstar to backers

Running Super Star lit up the tote board to the tune of a $310.80 mutuel when he rallied to win a bottom-priced maiden claimer for jockey Junior Alvarado and trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. in Monday's second race.

Running Super Star (who was the 5-2 favorite in his local debut on Jan. 17) had been beaten an average of nearly 32 lengths in two starts against the same company in the meet.

The hefty win payoff was not the largest in track history. That distinction still belongs to Concert Grand, who returned $404 for his victory here on Feb. 14, 1993.