12/23/2002 1:00AM

Pinky's name has nice ring in Gallant Fox


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There is finally something more to discuss about Pinky Pizwaanski than just his unusual name.

A 4-year-old gelded son of Petionville, Pinky Pizwaanski is coming off two sharp efforts and will attempt to win his first graded stakes in Saturday's $100,000, Grade 3 Gallant Fox Handicap at Aqueduct.

Pinky Pizwaanski's trainer, Billy Turner, won the 1977 Gallant Fox with Cunning Trick, "and I think ol' Pinky is a better horse than Cunning Trick was,'' Turner said.

It was only recently that Pinky Pizwaanski began to show that talent. In his last start, Pinky Pizwaanski cruised to a four-length victory in a second-level allowance race over Aqueduct's main track. That broke a 13-race losing streak.

"He's just gotten stronger; he looks like a different horse,'' Turner said. "That's just maturity. When they change like that, you like to see it.''

Turner also believes Pinky Pizwaanski is well suited to handle the grueling 13 furlongs of the Gallant Fox.

Pinky Pizwaanski is owned by Jeff Seder's Houyhnhnm (pronounced "whinnim'') Stable. Houyhnhnm is a land in Gulliver's Travels.

Pinky Pizwaanski was actually an exercise rider for Calumet Farm and worked with legendary trainer Ben Jones when he had Triple Crown winners Whirlaway and Citation.

"Whoever had Calumet's horses he went with them,'' Turner said. "He lived in New York the last 30 years of his life. He died in a bunkhouse here at Belmont. When he died, they found $30,000 in cash in his mattress.''

Pinky Pizwaanski can earn twice that much with a victory in Saturday's Gallant Fox. To do so, he will have to knock off Coyote Lakes, the reigning two-time champion of the Gallant Fox.

Pleasant Breeze is expected to be the starting highweight in the Gallant Fox at 119 pounds. The others considered definite are Coyote Lakes (118), Lucky Molar (117), Fisher Pond (115), Pinky Pizwaanski (114), and Haggs Castle (111). Country Be Gold (115), Durmiente (112), and Catlike Move (111) are possible.

Fisher Pond worked five furlongs in 1:01.77 over Belmont's training track on Monday.

True Direction sidelined again

True Direction, winner of last month's Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap, will be sidelined until mid-February with an injured splint bone in his right foreleg, trainer Carlos Morales said.

In June, following a third-place finish in the Riva Ridge Stakes, True Direction suffered an injury to the splint bone in his left foreleg.

"It's not a real bad problem, but it's a problem,'' said Morales, who had hoped to run True Direction in Thursday's Gravesend Handicap.

As he did with the previous splint bone injury, Morales freeze-fired the bone and then gave True Direction a few weeks of stall rest. Morales said True Direction is still at least a week away from returning to the track.

"I don't have anything in mind,'' Morales said. "The beginning or middle of February we should see him running again.''

Levine attempts stakes sweep

In addition to sending out likely Gallant Fox Handicap favorite Coyote Lakes, trainer Bruce Levine will saddle Thebigapple in Sunday's $75,000 Alex M. Robb Handicap for New York breds.

Thebigapple, a 3-year-old son of Allen's Prospect, has won three of his last five starts and Levine believes he had legitimate excuses in his two losses. After two allowance victories, Thebigapple finished sixth behind Gander in the Empire Classic. Levine ran Thebigapple back in 16 days off a career-best effort and thinks he bounced. "I squeezed him and I knew it,'' Levine said.

A month later, Thebigapple won an open company entry-level allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths.

In his most recent start, Thebigapple finished sixth, beaten five lengths in a second-level allowance. Levine felt jockey Aaron Gryder may have made a premature move into a hot pace.

The Alex Robb marks a return to New York-bred company as well as a cutback to 1 1/16 miles, a distance at which Thebigapple is 2 for 2.

A large field is likely for the Alex Robb, including Chasin' Wimmin, John Paul Too, Mount Intrepid, Impeachthepro, Personable Pete, Smile Smile Smile, Tom's Thunder, Mr. Determined, and Salute Him.

* Levine will also be represented in Sunday's $50,000 Carousel Stakes at Laurel Park with Svea Dahl, winner of the Aqueduct's Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap in November. Levine had planned to run Svea Dahl in the Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park last weekend, but the filly got sick. Levine is pointing her to the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita on Jan. 25.