04/22/2007 11:00PM

Slew's Tizzy closer to Derby run


LEXINGTON, Ky. - In the aftermath of Saturday's Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, trainer Greg Fox played it cool, just as a racetrack veteran of nearly 20 years tends to do. Fox was noncommittal about whether Slew's Tizzy, the Lexington winner at 40-1, would run back in the Kentucky Derby.

"Our philosophy is we don't run horses back in two weeks," said Fox, referring to himself and Joe LaCombe, the owner-breeder of Slew's Tizzy.

But less than 48 hours later, after easily the greatest win of his training career, Fox seemed ready to throw caution - and philosophy - to the wind. "Based on the way the horse has come out of the race," he said Monday morning, "we're seriously considering running in the Kentucky Derby."

Fox, a licensed veterinarian since 1989, turned to training in February 2005 and has known modest results, winning with 25 of 202 starters. But he has seen many standouts in his time, having worked with thousands of racehorses in a veterinary career that began in Maryland before he moved to Kentucky in the mid-1990s, and the victory by Slew's Tizzy did not surprise him, despite what the oddsboard said.

"This horse is such a tremendous physical specimen, and it's one of the reasons I kept trying him in all those tough races," said Fox, whose 24-horse stable is on a farm adjacent to the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington. "He can really cover some ground. It comes so easily to him. He's just been a magnet for bad luck, at least until the other day. I know only one horse has ever won both the Lexington and the Derby (Charismatic in 1999), but I think it boils down to how your particular horse is doing.

"From a physical point of view, he came out of the race in perfect shape. From a psychological point of view, he's even better. He seems incredibly confident. He's been standing in front of his stall since Saturday night. I can't get him off the webbing. He's clocking everybody who comes in the barn. He's very content with the world."

Fox said that if the decision is made to run in the Derby, the colt would ship to Churchill Downs early on Derby morning. Whether he would have Slew's Tizzy breeze at the training center in the interim, Fox said: "I may, or I easily may not."

If Slew's Tizzy runs in the Derby, he will do so with a new jockey. Robby Albarado, who rode him in the Lexington, is committed to unbeaten Curlin, the likely Derby favorite. "I don't have any names right now," Fox said. "We're just letting it all unfold."

Leparoux heads jockey standings

By winning three races Sunday, Julien Leparoux put some breathing distance between himself and his closest pursuers in the Keeneland jockey race. Into the final three-day stretch of racing, Leparoux, who tied for the 2006 spring title and won the 2006 fall title outright, had 20 wins. He was followed by Garrett Gomez with 16 and Edgar Prado with 15.

Two of Leparoux's Sunday winners are trained by Patrick Biancone, who appears well on his way to a second straight Keeneland title after topping the standings last fall. Biancone had 11 winners into Wednesday, four more than Todd Pletcher.

One of the Leparoux-Biancone winners Sunday was Lady of Venice, who was returning from an eight-month layoff in winning a turf allowance by a measured length as a 3-10 favorite.

Weather boosts attendance

The record crowd of 33,821 that packed Keeneland on Saturday was attributable in no small part to recent weather patterns. Until Friday, the weather invariably had been miserable for the first 10 days of the meet, keeping the crowds down. As a prime example, the 18,056 in attendance the previous Saturday was the lowest for a Blue Grass Stakes Day since Keeneland switched its premier event to a Saturday in 1989. But when the weather finally broke and the sun came out, it seemed that everyone and their sister took the opportunity to enjoy a perfect weekend afternoon at Keeneland.

Pletcher horses work in pairs

Rags to Riches, the solid favorite for the May 4 Kentucky Oaks, had another sharp workout when going five furlongs in 1:00.20 while in company with her Todd Pletcher stablemate Circular Quay early Sunday over the Keeneland Polytrack.

Pletcher also worked his two other Oaks prospects, Octave and Cotton Blosson, the previous day at Keeneland, with both going five furlongs in a swift 58 seconds.

The Pletcher trio is among 15 3-year-old fillies being pointed to the Oaks. Only 14 can start, which currently leaves Tough Tiz's Sis on the outside, based on graded earnings.

Final stakes of meet

Keeneland closes out the 15-day spring meet with the $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes on Thursday and the $200,000 Elkhorn Stakes on Friday. A deep field of 12 older horses, led by Chatain, Stream Cat, and Mustanfar, has been entered in the Grade 3 Ben Ali, a 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race. Entries for the Grade 3 Elkhorn, a 1 1/2-mile turf race, were to be taken Tuesday.

Derby Trial highlights Churchill opener

Churchill kicks off its spring meet Saturday with the annual opening-day feature, the $100,000 Derby Trial, a 7 1/2-furlong race for which officials are expecting a medium-sized field of 3-year-olds. Among the possible starters are Bold Start, Forefathers, Moyer's Pond, Out of Gwedda, and Wafi City.