04/26/2007 11:00PM

Music School best sprinting


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Neil Howard took note that speed did not hold very well on Polytrack during the opening few days of the Keeneland spring meet, so after Music School pressed the early pace before fading to third in an about seven-furlong allowance April 7, the trainer was not entirely discouraged.

What's more, the race further convinced Howard and co-owner Will Farish that they need to focus solely on sprints for Music School while discarding previously held notions that the 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt might develop into a classic-type performer.

On Sunday, Music School will run six furlongs in the feature race at Churchill Downs, a $52,500 allowance.

"Mr. Farish and I discussed him at length the night he ran at Keeneland," said Howard. "We've come to the conclusion that, unlike most of the A.P. Indys, he's probably going to be a nice 6- or 6 1/2-furlong kind of horse, just like his mother was. We still have a lot of confidence in this horse."

Music School, out of the Dixieland Band mare Delta Music, won the first two races of his career, including his one start at 2, immediately fostering hopes for the 2006 Triple Crown series. But after Music School was soundly defeated in the Southwest and Rebel, Howard pulled back, and even after having four races since mid-December, Music School is still seeking to win a second-level allowance race.

An opportunity to finally knock out that second condition arises Sunday. Robby Albarado will ride Music School, who starts from the outside post in a field of 11 older horses.

Assuming Music School rebounds with a top effort and that he gets a clean stalking trip from the outside, he looks like the horse to beat in a fairly well-matched feature, which goes as the ninth of 10 races.

As for a prime challenger, Todd Pletcher would certainly appear to have one in Justa Streak, who earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in winning a Jan. 26 allowance sprint at Gulfstream before finishing fourth as the favorite in his only subsequent start, a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream on Feb. 28.

Other logical contenders include Charismatic Cat, whose trainer, Ken McPeek, had an outstanding Keeneland meet, and Indian Chant, who is going turf to dirt for trainer Tom Amoss.