01/22/2004 1:00AM

Fire Slam's status remains uncertain


Somewhere in the trainer's bible should be a section called, "Diary of a Quarter Crack," the drama that starts in a stakes horse's hoof and bubbles up to the public eye. First comes news of a foot bruise. The bruise becomes an abscess. The abscess pops through the hoof, causing a quarter crack. Then begins the therapeutic shoeing, the patching, the soaking - and most of all, the uncertainty.

Presiding over this circumstance Thursday morning at Fair Grounds was David Carroll, whose stakes horse, Fire Slam, came up with a quarter crack just in time to jeopardize his spot in Saturday's Lecomte Stakes. Fire Slam has plenty of ability, evidenced by his tough-trip second in the $1 million Delta Jackpot, and Carroll hopes to run him in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby. But right now, he is walking a tightrope, trying to nurse the colt into the Lecomte.

Fire Slam stayed in his stall Wednesday, and his prospects looked bleak, but Carroll decided to test the foot Thursday morning. He let Fire Slam jog a bit, and when the horse seemed comfortable, he put him through an easy gallop.

"I needed to see how he'd handle changing leads and things like that," Carroll said.

Fire Slam didn't show signs of discomfort out on the racetrack, but Carroll could see the foot still was touchy as Fire Slam was led around the barn following his light workout.

"It's there, it still bothers him," said Carroll. "If the race were today, I'd consider running, but I'd be leaning against it." Carroll said. "We'll just have to wait and see."

Saintly Look being examined

Saintly Look, beaten 20 lengths as the favorite in the Jan. 11 Colonel Power Handicap, has been sent to the Rood and Riddle veterinary clinic near Lexington, Ky.

"He was sore in the right hind leg," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "There wasn't anything that swelled up on him. My best guess is it could be a muscle, but we'll have to wait and see what they come up with. I think maybe it happened on the backstretch of the race. He seemed comfortable on the backstretch, but he didn't have anything in the stretch."

Tiffany Lass field may grow

A two-turn, entry-level allowance race failed to attract sufficient entries and was scrapped from Saturday's card, a development that could swell Sunday's $100,000 Tiffany Lass, a one-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

One of the horses entered in the allowance, Good Humor Gal, was unlikely to run there anyway. Her trainer, Troy Young, said he had entered Good Humor Gal in Saturday's allowance as a back-up plan, in case his filly was excluded from an oversubscribed Tiffany Lass. Now, there is no Plan B, but as of Thursday, Good Humor Gal was likely to get into the Tiffany Lass.

"I wanted to run in the stake all along," Young said. "She's one of the best fillies I've had."

In her first start around two turns, Good Humor Gal won her maiden by three-quarters of a length over Song Track, who came back to win by almost eight lengths.

"She does everything like a good horse, does everything right," Young said. "She's got the ability. This race will tell us something, but I think she's going to be okay."

The Tiffany Lass favorites, All Electric and Lotta Kim, both come from the barn of trainer Hal Wiggins. The Steve Asmussen-trained Sister Swank also will be well supported.

Political Risk possible for Whirlaway

Neil Howard has gotten off to a spectacular start at Fair Grounds. Through Monday, he had run 19 horses at the meet, compiling 7 wins, 7 seconds, and 3 thirds.

About all he has failed to do is make Mineshaft re-materialize.

A year ago Mineshaft, relatively unknown, was in Howard's shed row. His current address is the stallion barn at Lane's End Farm outside Versailles, Ky, and on Monday night, Mineshaft has a strong chance to be named 2003 Horse of the Year. Within the week, Howard should have a better sense of where he stands in the 2004 older-horse division. Political Risk is no Mineshaft - so far, at least - but he has plenty of raw ability, so much so that Howard is giving strong consideration to the Grade 3 Whirlaway on Feb. 1.

Sidelined by an injury for much of his 3-year-old season, Political Risk remains eligible for a second-level allowance race, but Howard was pleased with the colt's sprint comeback on Jan. 4, and said Political Risk has trained well since then.

"Right now, there's a pretty decent chance we're going to run," Howard said Thursday morning. "He's going in the right direction. You have to remember, he'd be going in a mile and a sixteenth race against some good horses off only a six-furlong race."