02/22/2007 12:00AM

French filly has stakes potential

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NEW ORLEANS - Saturday's Fair Grounds program includes several interesting races on the Bayou Breeders' Cup undercard. A first-level turf allowance sprint has attracted the French import Polysheba, who will be making her first start since arriving at Mike Stidham's barn for this meet.

Polysheba, 4, began her career with three third-place finishes for trainer Andre Fabre before she won her maiden in her last start as a 2-year-old. She raced seven times in France at 3, finishing second twice and third once, before owners Alain and Gerard Wertheimer sent her to Stidham.

"Basically, they're sending her over here to see if she adapts better to the American racing," said Stidham. "We'll see if we can get some black type for her over here. We've had some luck in the past doing that. We've entered her several times and it's been rained off, so we're experimenting by trying her at 5 1/2 furlongs."

So far Stidham likes what he has seen from Polysheba.

"She's trained well," he said. "We're not making any predictions but we hope that she turns into a nice filly. She seems to have adapted very well over here and I expect her to run well."

Brilliant continues to move forward

The Neil Howard-trained Brilliant is training sensationally for his first start as a 4-year-old, but Howard hasn't found the right race for his return yet. A son of War Chant, Brilliant turned in his second consecutive strong five-furlong work earlier this week.

"He's getting close," said Howard. "He's still a few works away. We haven't quite settled on when he's going to start."

Brilliant took a few starts before winning his maiden but turned into a monster on the grass last year, winning 4 of 6 turf races, including the Grade 2 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs and the Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park. He has been off since October, and at one point was pointing toward the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap on March 10.

"We're not ruling out the Muniz," said Howard, "but that's not the ideal place where I'd want to start him out. We might consider it though. I don't think there is anything for him before the Muniz. He's doing well and I couldn't be happier with him."

Patriot Act, also trained by Howard, ran a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure finishing second behind Master Command in the Mineshaft Handicap Feb. 10. The pace scenario in the race did not benefit Patriot Act, a one-run closer. Howard is delighted to see Patriot Act finally put together a solid series of races after being repeatedly sidelined by injury earlier in his career, but is getting tired of losing races with short fields and sluggish paces.

"He's doing fine," Howard said of Patriot Act, a William Farish homebred. "He just had a nice easy half-mile work to get back going. Mr. Farish and I are going to mull over his next move. As for the [March 10] New Orleans Handicap, we're going to wait and see how it's going to shape up and then we'll make a decision. If there's more pace, we very well may consider it, but again that's something Mr. Farish and I will keep an open mind about."