01/22/2005 1:00AM

Patriot Act to have knee surgery

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NEW ORLEANS - Patriot Act, the Neil Howard-trained 3-year-old who finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last year, has been taken out of training and will undergo surgery Feb. 2 to remove a chip from his left knee.

A William Farish homebred by A.P. Indy, Patriot Act will be sent to Kentucky for the surgery.

"We found a chip in his left knee," said Howard. "There was always a little spur there, but it was just a flake."

Howard had been looking for a spot to run Patriot Act, who is still a maiden. But the way the colt was training led Howard to suspect something was wrong.

"I just didn't like the way he was working," said Howard. "The knee looked a little big so we X-rayed it and we found the chip. With some horses this is something you might be able to overlook, but this is a special horse and we're going to make sure we do everything we can to get him as good as we can get him. We're going to back off him now for a while, pass on the spring races, and hope for something later."

Classy trio in feature

Three of the six fillies and mares in Monday's feature race at Fair Grounds, a six-furlong optional claimer with a $62,500 tag, have been stakes placed.

Pawyne Princess is the most accomplished member of the field. A 4-year-old Saint Ballado filly, owned by Michael Gill and trained by Gamaliel Vazquez, Pawyne Princess finished second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico last year and has been worse than third only once in seven lifetime starts. She finished second, beaten a neck, against the boys in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, and ran third in the Wide Country at Laurel. She has been off since winning an allowance at The Meadowlands in October and her works are not particularly impressive, but she has run well fresh in the past.

Stonington just missed winning the Pan Zareta Handicap at Fair Grounds in 2003 after leading into the stretch. Trained by Mark Frostad, Stonington has been off since May and has been working steadily for her return, flashing a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40 in her last work. Gerard Melancon has the mount.

Humor Me Molly blossomed at Gulfstream Park last year, where the 4-year-old Distorted Humor filly started a four-race winning streak. She finished that run with an easy victory in the Beautiful Day Stakes at Delaware Park.

She ran in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga in her next start and was badly overmatched. She has not won since, but she finished third in the Just Smashing Stakes at Monmouth and the P.G. Johnson at The Meadowlands. John Jacinto will ride for trainer Rebecca Maker.

Shootandcharge, Spring Rush, and Crow Jane complete the field.