01/09/2004 12:00AM

Pessin's patience finally rewarded


NEW ORLEANS - On the surface, little distinguished Raised Right's victory in Thursday's seventh race at Fair Grounds. Raised Right, a first-time starter who has just turned 4, took betting action, and his solid half-length win got his backers $5.60 to win. But the race meant more to the people close to Raised Right.

Trainer Neil Pessin, who won just once in 2003, had waited two years for the colt to start, and as Pessin has plowed forward with a handful of lower-level horses, Raised Right has kept him hopeful.

"You can get tired of cheap horses," Pessin said. "Raised Right's what's kept me coming to the barn the last six months."

Since Pessin is more of a gentleman trainer, it was not life and death that Raised Right turn out. But the frustration had been building. Pessin liked the colt at age 2, and Raised Right nearly started in the fall of his juvenile season, but injury derailed him. The same thing happened at Fair Grounds last winter. Raised Right won a training race and was poised to debut when he went bad and needed more time off.

"He had some minor problem," Pessin said. "He wasn't right, but he wasn't lame."

The veterinary clinic Rood and Riddle advised Pessin to turn Raised Right out for two months. "We turned him out for eight months," Pessin said.

With the moment of truth finally at hand, Pessin left little to chance. At Fair Grounds, only stakes nominees can school in the paddock during racing hours, so Pessin paid $50 to nominate to the Colonel Power.

Raised Right has six owners, and a group of 24 followers rode a bus from Fair Hope, Ala., to New Orleans on Thursday. Raised Right broke well, showed speed, and followed through with a creditable stretch run. And the wait was finally over.

Getting to California the hard part

Comic Truth had dead aim at the leaders in the Louisiana Handicap here on Jan. 2, but his stretch run came up short, and Comic Truth finished third.

The purse in that race was $60,000, but Comic Truth's connections aren't aiming low. Trainer Patrick Daly said Comic Truth is likely to ship from Fair Grounds to Santa Anita for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 24.

Daly believes Comic Truth can run better at Santa Anita than he did at Fair Grounds. "I don't think he was getting all of this racetrack. He's a horse that wants to run on something more like this," said Daly, pointing to the asphalt beneath his feet. "He wants to hear his feet rattle."

Daly said Comic Truth had come out of the Louisiana in good shape and was in good physical condition. The problem is getting him to California. Finding a flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles is difficult, and Daly said he could be forced to van to Nashville and catch a Federal Express flight from there.

Timo will get time off till spring

Timo's inquisitive gray head poked eagerly out of his stall Friday morning in the barn of trainer Bill Badgett. A little too eagerly, perhaps. Badgett is trying to give Timo a break from serious training and point him for stakes races in the spring, but Timo has been "a handful around the barn," Badgett said.

"Hopefully he'll start to let down a little bit pretty soon," Badgett said.

Timo may still have his mind on his last start, the Jan. 1 Tropical Park Derby. Timo stumbled badly coming out of the gate, and things got worse from there. He finished fifth, but is a much better horse than that. Badgett said he would walk and jog Timo in the near future, then point for stakes races, most likely at Keeneland.

At the mercy of early pacesetters

A lack of pace doomed Freefourinternet's chances in the Colonel Bradley Handicap here Jan. 3, but Freefourinternet came out of the race well and is pushing on to the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup on Jan. 31.

"He's so sound," said trainer Joan Scott. "He's not a horse you worry about getting from race to race."

Scott thinks Freefourinternet has more speed than he shows in his races, but he has fallen into the habit of dropping far behind the early leaders. When the pace horses crawled in the Bradley, Freefourinternet had no chance, and Scott acknowledged race setups could be a continuing problem.

"I guess that could happen to him again, he gets so far behind," she said.

* Jockey Eddie Martin is to begin serving a suspension of seven calendar days on Sunday. Martin was suspended for his ride on Prayer Bell, who was disqualified from first to second for interference in the 10th race Monday. Through Thursday, Martin ranked third in the jockey standings with 24 wins.