10/31/2002 12:00AM

Red Bullet in Foggy Road: Pure prep?


How do you treat a horse with a ton of back class who's returning from a long layoff and prepping for a bigger target down the road?

That's the question handicappers must answer when deciding whether to support Red Bullet at a short price or try to beat him in Saturday's $55,000 Foggy Road Stakes at Delaware Park.

Red Bullet, winner of the Preakness two years ago, has been idle since March 30, when he finished fifth in the 1 1/4-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap. The six-furlong Foggy Road offers trainer Joe Orseno a chance to sharpen Red Bullet before sending him against some of the heavyweights of the handicap division in the Nov. 30 Cigar Mile in New York.

It's probably safe to assume that the 5-year-old Red Bullet won't be fully cranked for a minor sprint stakes. But bettors can't be certain whether Red Bullet at something less than his best still might be good enough to defeat 12 rivals in the Foggy Road.

There are at least a couple of contenders capable of upsetting Red Bullet if they run back to their best efforts.

True Passion was extremely sharp earlier this season when he won the Wilmington at Delaware and the Grade 3 Philadelphia Breeders' Cup Handicap while earning back-to-back Beyer Speed Figures of 101 and 104. He didn't look like the same horse when he returned from a freshening to finish last in the Grade 2 Forest Hills at Belmont Park in early October, however.

He's a Knockout has a very similar pattern. He was good enough to earn triple-digit Beyer Figures in the spring at Gulfstream Park and during the summer at Delaware. But since winning the Brandywine with a 112 Beyer in late June, He's a Knockout has tailed off. He's coming off a last-place finish in the Maryland Million Sprint. On the plus side, last year He's a Knockout also finished off the board in that race and came back in his next start to win a sprint stakes at Laurel with a 114 Beyer.

Night Caller was sharp during the summer when he won back-to-back stakes at Philadelphia and Monmouth, but was dull in his return in a seven-furlong stakes at Charles Town last time out.

Valenzo may go to Remsen

Valenzo, the runner-up in last Saturday's Dover Stakes at Delaware, could make his next start in the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

Trainer Allen Iwinski has gotten positive results with Valenzo since he added blinkers and stretched out the 2-year-old colt. After winning his maiden in September, Valenzo returned to finish a neck behind Mt. Carson at odds of 23-1 in the one-mile Dover.

"I think he definitely improved in his last race against some quality horses," Iwinski said. "If he is okay in the next couple of days, he will probably go to New York to train for the Remsen, unless we think the race comes up extremely tough, and then we will send him to Florida."