02/17/2004 1:00AM

Risen Star rivals go separate ways


NEW ORLEANS - There is no imminent rematch between Gradepoint and Mr. Jester, the top two horses in Sunday's Risen Star Stakes. In fact, Mr. Jester was gone before Gradepoint had really begun his day Monday morning.

Shortly after 5 a.m., Mr. Jester boarded a van that took him back to trainer Steve Wren's base at Oaklawn Park. Gradepoint had a much less eventful day, recovering from his half-length win in the Grade 3 Risen Star, the Fair Grounds prep for the Louisiana Derby. That's the race in which Gradepoint probably will next start, while Mr. Jester now turns his focus to Oaklawn, where he's slated to run in the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby.

Both colts appeared well after the Risen Star. "He looked good. He cooled out well last night," trainer Neil Howard said of Gradepoint on Monday morning.

Mr. Jester "looked like he came out of it real good," Wren said. "He cleaned up his feed."

Gradepoint and Mr. Jester ran comparable races Sunday. Both rallied from behind a slow pace, and while Gradepoint had more distance to make up, he had a clean run, while Mr. Jester got into some trouble. And though Gradepoint conceded seasoning, Mr. Jester had not started since early December, while Gradepoint had a recent race over the Fair Grounds track.

Wren said he didn't immediately realize how difficult Mr. Jester's trip in the Risen Star had been. "He got in a lot of trouble," Wren said. "Getting stopped a couple times could have gotten him beat a half-length."

Mr. Jester wasn't trained aggressively for the Risen Star, and Wren believes the colt should improve in the coming weeks. "I want to have him peaked out Arkansas Derby Day," he said. "You just can't tighten the screws down for several months in a row. As long as he keeps going forward, that's the thing."

Gradepoint continues to look like a horse who will prosper at longer distances. But Howard is loath to leave Fair Grounds for Gradepoint's next start, and so will tentatively point for the Louisiana Derby, which, like the Risen Star, is run at 1 1/16 miles.

"To me, the ground he made up late in the race shows he should be better the farther he goes," said Howard.

Conservative by nature, Howard has brought Gradepoint along slowly, letting his natural talent spool out one bit at a time. Now, Gradepoint has hit the national radar, and Howard has started - cautiously - to envision his future.

"I'm looking at him now like this: He's showing a little consistency now. He overcame some adversity. Now, he probably can be taken seriously. You hate to say it - going to the Derby. That's what we get up for every day, to have a Derby horse. Now, maybe you can start looking at him that way."

X-rays negative on Shiloh Bound

Shiloh Bound was scratched from the Risen Star when he came up lame Sunday morning, but by Monday, the horse was walking soundly again. Shiloh Bound apparently bruised his right front hoof, an injury that revealed itself at a most inopportune moment.

"The race would have been a really good spot for him," trainer Walter Bindner said.

Shiloh Bound, unbeaten in three starts, probably would have been the controlling speed horse in the slow-paced Risen Star. He had worked a very strong six furlongs the Monday before the race, and he has displayed an unusual zeal for competition during his brief career.

X-rays of Shiloh Bound's foot came back negative, but he almost certainly is suffering from a foot bruise. Such an injury can go undetected for days, and now Bindner must wait and see if an abscess in the foot pops through the hoof wall, causing a quarter crack.

"There's still some heat in the foot," Bindner said. "I don't know how long it's going to be. It could be two or three days - it could be two or three weeks."

Shadow Cast likely for oaks

Shadow Cast, who won the Silverbulletday Stakes on Saturday, probably will start next in the Fair Grounds Oaks, where she could have a rematch with Quick Temper, who finished second by a half-length in the Silverbulletday.

Quick Temper shipped here from Florida for trainer Niall O'Callaghan, and as of early this week remained stabled in trainer Eddie Kenneally's Fair Grounds barn.

"It's a possibility she'll stay there," O'Callaghan said. "I'm giving it consideration. We're looking at everything for her, really. There's been no decision yet other than to give her a few days' rest."

Neil Howard, who swept the weekend stakes, said Shadow Cast probably would make her next start in the oaks. "I think that's the way we'll be heading. She's an improving filly. We're going to let her go her own pace," Howard said.

Donn runner-up Seattle Fitz to run here next

Seattle Fitz, who ran very well finishing second behind Medaglia d'Oro in the Donn Handicap, will make his next start in the New Orleans Handicap on Feb. 29. Seattle Fitz, based in Florida with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, is scheduled to fly here early next week.

Saint Liam, another New Orleans Handicap ship-in, worked five furlongs here in 1:02.40 Monday. Trained by Richard Dutrow, Saint Liam is stabled here in trainer Mike Pino's shed row.

* Eddie Martin didn't ride Monday after injuring his leg in a starting-gate accident before Sunday's 10th race. Martin was named to ride on Thursday's card, and his injury wasn't thought to be serious.