05/06/2008 12:00AM

Harty colt makes his dirt debut


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Who said the handicapping principles that apply to the Kentucky Derby aren't meant for everyday races?

Thursday at Churchill Downs, an Eoin Harty-trained 3-year-old with nothing but synthetic-track races on his past performances will make his dirt debut - and hopefully with better results than what happened with Colonel John, the Harty-trained colt who also had raced exclusively on synthetics before finishing sixth as the second choice in the Derby on Saturday.

Tiz Now Tiz Then, fresh off a victory in an April 5 maiden route at Keeneland, is one of six 3-year-olds entered in the eighth of nine Thursday races. Colonel John is a WinStar Farm homebred, and Tiz Now Tiz Then was bred by the Versailles, Ky., powerhouse before being sold at auction as a yearling.

The similarities start ebbing from there. While Colonel John was precocious enough to win a stakes race in his third start, Tiz Now Tiz Then is taking a little longer to come around. Although he has been consistent, with Beyer Speed Figures in the mid- to high 70s in his last five races, it wasn't until his seventh try that he was finally able to win.

Still, there are no Big Browns among his competition Thursday, and he figures among the top choices to make it through the first-level allowance condition that governs the 1 1/16-mile race. Miguel Mena has the call from Harty on Tiz Now Tiz Then, a Tiznow colt who will break from post 1.

Other logical contenders include Buddy's Bid (post 6), a two-back maiden winner who was most recently fourth in the Northern Spur on Arkansas Derby Day at Oaklawn Park, and Evade (post 5), a Polytrack maiden winner at Keeneland last out.

Star Defender (post 2), Command Sgt. Major (post 3), and Bearsready (post 4) complete the lineup.

Depending on what occurred here Wednesday, the Thursday card could carry considerably more meaning with horseplayers than what might normally be expected. Huge carryover jackpots were up for grabs Wednesday, the first day of live racing here following the Derby, in both the pick six and new Super High Five wager.

In case the Super High Five carried over again to Thursday, the pickings don't get any easier, as a field of 12 $5,000-claiming sprinters was entered in the last race, when the gimmick is offered daily.

First post here after the Derby is 1:15, except for twilight Fridays (2:45).