03/02/2007 1:00AM

New Orleans, not Dubai, for Einstein

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The Grade 1 winner Einstein will leave town for his next start, but the destination will not be Dubai.

Instead, trainer Helen Pitts plans to ship Einstein to New Orleans for next Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap at the Fair Grounds. Pitts will use that race as a way to get to the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on May 5, Kentucky Derby Day.

"If you want to come back in the Woodford, the only other thing is California, and I don't want to ship all the way out there," Pitts said. "That turf course in New Orleans will be good for him. He's come out of his last race good."

Einstein's last race was a hard-luck third-place finish in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap - a race he won last year - in which he was four to five wide for most of the trip.

"He had post 10, and it's either take way back and drop in or try to go and get a decent position," Pitts said. "He ended up wide the whole way and was third, beaten a half-length."

Before deciding to run in New Orleans, Pitts and her owners considered shipping Einstein to Dubai for the $5 million Sheema Classic. Because he's a Southern Hemisphere-bred horse, Einstein is really a 4-year-old, though he is considered 5 here.

"He's still very young," Pitts said. "He's got a big future ahead of him. He doesn't need to be facing the older Europeans. There's a great future for him here. He's never had a chance to run a whole year here yet. He'll have plenty of opportunity to go to Dubai."

Mare may take on Muniz males

Einstein may be joined in the Muniz by another Gulfstream shipper, Naissance Royale. Trainer Christophe Clement passed Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Honey Fox with Naissance Royale and said he will probably run her against males at Fair Grounds.

A 5-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway, Naissance Royale is coming off a game victory over J'ray in the Grade 3 Suwannee River Handicap and is a two-time Grade 2 winner.

If she starts in the Muniz, it would be the first time Naissance Royale will have faced males in her career. That fact does not faze Clement.

"She won't know she's running against the boys," said Clement. "And we won't tell her."

Clement also said that Bend a Little, who was vanned off after breaking down just past the finish line of last Sunday's The Very One Handicap, underwent successful surgery earlier this week in Ocala and is expected to make a complete recovery.

"She ruptured the sesamoidal ligament in her leg, but barring any complications she should be able to lead a normal life as a broodmare," said Clement. "The first two weeks after the surgery are the most critical, but as of now she seems to be doing well."

Clement also said that Royal Highness, who captured The Very One, came out of the race in good fashion and will likely make her next start in the Orchid Handicap here on March 31 or the Bewitch at Keeneland in April.

Bridgmohan cleared to ride

Apprentice Jermaine Bridgmohan, who suffered a broken collarbone and other injuries in a frightening spill here on opening day, was given clearance to return to the saddle, according to his agent, Cory Moran.

Bridgmohan was scheduled to work horses for trainers Dave Vivian and Eddie Plesa Jr. at Calder on Saturday.

"If all goes well, he'll begin riding again when the new book starts on March 14," said Moran.

Bridgmohan, 18, the younger brother of journeyman Shaun Bridgmohan, came into the 2007 Gulfstream meet with high expectations after setting a Tropical at Calder record with 110 victories during the 60-day meet.

Decision time with Miss Shop

Virtually every decision Allen Jerkens has made at this meet has been the right one. But he admits he is having a difficult time deciding in which race to run Miss Shop.

Jerkens, who through Friday is 13 for 36 at this meet, including four stakes wins, entered Miss Shop in Sunday's Honey Fox Handicap at 1o1/16 miles on the turf. Miss Shop would have to face 3-year-old filly champion Wait a While.

But Jerkens also has Miss Shop nominated to next Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Rampart Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt. She would have to face defending Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Round Pond in that race.

"Years ago it'd be no problem, you'd run in both," Jerkens said. "Run in this one then walk and pony all week and run in the other one."

Miss Shop is a stakes winner on both surfaces. Last time out, she displayed an awesome closing kick to win the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf over this course.

"She ran so good last time, she was just pitter-patting along," Jerkens said. "She's a little heavier now than she was at 4."

Making the decision tougher is that Jerkens is likely to scrap his plan of attempting to stretch out Sabin winner Swap Fliparoo in distance in the Rampart.

"It was a couple of days after the race, and she acted like she had a bruise in her foot," Jerkens said. "She's come out of it now. It wouldn't hurt for her not to run any more down here. It's a long year."

Lilly Carson getting back in shape

Lilly Carson, a debut winner at Saratoga who finished third in the Grade 1 Frizette, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 Friday morning over Gulfstream's main track. She has not run since finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Trainer Ralph Nicks explained that Lilly Carson popped abscesses in both of her front feet after the Breeders' Cup. A month after starting to train down here, Lilly Carson started to suffer from a lung infection. She scoped clean after Friday's work.

"It looks like the filly turned the corner," Nicks said. "She finally got a little consistency in her training."

Nicks said Lilly Carson may need another work or two before she's ready to run.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch