12/15/2006 12:00AM

Music School in first race since March


NEW ORLEANS - Music School, a talented 3-year-old A.P. Indy colt trained by Neil Howard, returns to action after being off since March in Sunday's feature at Fair Grounds, a second-level optional claiming race at six furlongs.

Music School, owned and bred in a partnership headed by Will Farish, won his maiden at Churchill Downs in his only start as a 2-year-old, then returned at Oaklawn Park in February to score in an entry-level optional claimer. After finishing fourth in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, he pressed the pace in the Grade 3 Rebel before tiring.

While in training for the Lexington Stakes, Music School suffered a fractured cannon bone during an April 11 workout at Churchill. After successful surgery, Music School resumed his training schedule with renewed zest, turning in a bullet half-mile breeze in 47 seconds at Churchill before shipping to Fair Grounds, where he has been sharp in the mornings.

"He's trained very well since we've gotten him back, and we're anxious to get going with him again," said Howard, who was pleased by a bullet five furlongs in 59.40 from the gate in preparation for this race.

"I wanted to get a sharp work into him," said Howard. "That was out of the gate, and most horses are going to be a little bit underneath themselves coming out of the gate anyway. He's been off a long time, but he's going good and hopefully this is just the first step back in a process."

Mark of Success, a Dallas Stewart-trained Mt. Livermore gelding, finished fifth in the Southwest and has been running in allowance and optional claiming races in recent months. He and the 6-year-old gelding Founding Chairman are the only horses in for the $35,000 tag here.

Valid Brush, a Broad Brush gelding trained by Richard Small, finished second in the Bergen County at the Meadowlands and the Deputed Testamony at Laurel, and could land a share. Vanilla Scoop is also stakes-placed.

Four Sevens has a lot of speed and could challenge Music School on the front end. The Unbridled's Song colt finished fourth in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park, ahead of Right Place N Time, and had a troubled trip in the Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day at Fair Grounds, finishing eighth after being squeezed approaching the stretch.