09/30/2003 12:00AM

Long-absent Brancusi, Tizbud return

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Brancusi may have been unequipped for the class demands of the Kentucky Derby in his most recent start. Thursday at Santa Anita, the question is whether Brancusi is prepared to handle a one-other-than allowance field while racing for the first time in five months.

The class drop is only slightly less severe for Tizbud. He drops out of the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes into a first-condition Cal-bred allowance. The comeback marks the first start since January for Tizbud, and the current-form dilemma is every bit as relevant as it is for Brancusi.

Brancusi, whose spring campaign included a runner-up finish in Blue Grass Stakes and a third in the San Felipe Stakes, returns in race 4 at one mile on turf. Tizbud, the 4-year-old full brother to graded stakes winners Tiznow, Budroyale, and Tizdubai, returns in race 6 at one mile on dirt. Preceded by their reputations, neither Brancusi nor Tizbud is required to win first start back. But they won't be easy to beat, either.

Brancusi is more difficult to oppose, for two reasons. First, he has established himself as a good horse. It takes more than luck to hit the board in two of the most prestigious 3-year-old races of spring. Brancusi earned Beyer Speed Figures of 98 in the Blue Grass and 101 in the San Felipe. None of his seven rivals Thursday has raced as fast. Secondly, Brancusi has shown that he runs well fresh.

Trained by Patrick Biancone, Brancusi returned in February from a 2 1/2-month layoff to win a maiden race by five lengths. He shows a steady work pattern for his return, and his up-front running style should allow him a good trip with the rails up at 30 feet. Tony Farina rides Brancusi, whose rivals include lightly raced Kewen, New York shipper Snorter, and 1-for-29 Jump Bail.

Tizbud also has trained well for his comeback, but will always be unfairly compared to his siblings. Tizbud has raced four times, won once, and was sidelined following his third-place finish in the San Fernando. Trained by John Sadler, Tizbud returns with a solid workout pattern and a history of running well fresh. When he won a maiden race last fall while racing for the first time in 3 1/2 months, he rolled by six lengths.

Tizbud's Cal-bred rivals include improving Political Rhetoric, sprinter Exceeding, and Logician.

In race 7, the Australian gelding Sex Machine makes his U.S. debut for trainer Ron McAnally in an optional $80,000 claiming turf sprint. He will have to beat Golden Arrow.