03/09/2002 12:00AM

French Assault taken ill


NEW ORLEANS - French Assault was withdrawn from Sunday's Louisiana Derby because of an illness. Fourth in the Risen Star Stakes, his first start this season, French Assault is suffering from an intestinal disorder.

Trainer Keith Desormeaux said he noticed that French Assault wasn't in peak physical condition late in the week, but hoped that his problem was minor. "I was reading his symptoms as reacting to the quick change in weather," Desormeaux said. "It went from cold to hot so fast."

But when French Assault's condition failed to improve, it became apparent that something more serious was amiss, and a diagnosis was made Saturday.

French Assault will be given a few days to sort out the problem on his own, but could be sent to a veterinary clinic if his symptoms don't improve. Desormeaux is hopeful that the setback won't cost French Assault more than a few days of training.

Double Zero Seven working

Double Zero Seven, who won the last four starts of his 2-year-old season but has not raced since Sept. 8, is back in training at Fair Grounds and posted the second work of his comeback Wednesday. He breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60, but his trainer, Angel Montano, said the colt is still a few works away from a race.

"It'll be a while before I run him," Montano said. "Maybe at Keeneland, maybe Churchill."

Montano and owner Larry Telle claimed Double Zero Seven out of a $25,000 maiden race last June at Churchill and the colt has not lost since. He won a $50,000 maiden claimer, an allowance race, and a pair of minor sprint stakes at Arlington last summer, but was taken out of training after chipping a bone in his knee. Double Zero Seven underwent surgery to repair the chip, but Montano is pleased with the way the colt has come back. "He's doing very well," Montano said.

Classy family ties

There is a featured race Monday at Fair Grounds - it's the ninth, a second-level turf claimer with a $40,000 claiming option - but also on display are horses with the richest kind of pedigree.

In the 10th, Point Gained, a 3-year-old half-sister to champion Point Given, makes her first start of the year, and in the sixth Volkonsky, a half-brother to Go for Gin and Pleasant Tap, makes his career debut.

After three starts, Point Gained has not evidenced talent anywhere close to that of her famous brother's, though she has enough ability to have won a Lone Star maiden allowance race at first asking last summer. Coming out of her maiden win, Point Gained was given two shots to win a stakes race and enhance her resume, but failed both times and went to the sidelines in November. Point Gained comes back in a first-level turf allowance race for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Volkonsky, a Deputy Minister colt, makes his career debut in a six-furlong maiden allowance race and faces a field full of promising horses. Trainer Dallas Stewart is high on his first-time starter in the race, Maestro, while first-timer City Fear, from the Louie Roussel barn, had the look of a debut winner in a schooling race victory here last month.