03/06/2007 12:00AM

Slew's Tizzy's trip can only improve


NEW ORLEANS - While all the post-race attention in the roughly run Risen Star Stakes last month at Fair Grounds rightly focused on Circular Quay, who was the 6-5 favorite in that race, Slew's Tizzy had as bad a trip. If not worse.

Like Circular Quay, Slew's Tizzy was cruising toward the leaders when disaster struck. Slew's Tizzy clipped heels and dislodged his rider, James Graham. They were right in front of Circular Quay, who had to check severely and almost came to a stop.

Slew's Tizzy looked none the worse for the wear on Tuesday morning, when he jogged 1 1/2 miles and then galloped another 1 1/2 miles with his trainer, Greg Fox, watching. As with Circular Quay, Slew's Tizzy is back at Fair Grounds for the Grade 2, $600,000 Louisiana Derby on Saturday.

"We were lucky," Fox said. "He's a grand, 17-hand horse, but he's very, very athletic. He just grabbed his right front quarter a little bit. I did have a chiropractor look at him to make sure he was in alignment. He's demonstrated a lot to me in the last couple of months. He looks the part. He's big and scopey."

Slew's Tizzy, by Tiznow, owns just one win in four starts, against maidens on the Polytrack surface at Turfway Park in January. He is the longest shot, at 15-1, on the Louisiana Derby line set by Billy Pettingill of Fair Grounds. He was 82-1 in the Risen Star.

"I'm not intimidated by the class of the field," Fox said. "I think he does fit at this level. We're going to play our hand out. He was right there just when the real racing was going to begin. I thought he deserved another chance."

Fox, 45, is a veterinarian who ran track as an undergrad at Boston University and whose father was a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After getting his doctorate at Tufts University, Fox worked in Scandanavia with Standardbreds, then did vet work with Thoroughbreds. He still advises clients on purchases and vets runners. Fox now trains 24 horses on the farm he and his wife, Jamie, own near Lexington, Ky. It is adjacent to The Thoroughbred Center training facility.

"I've had an unusual path, to put it mildly," he said.

As usual, Patriot Act needs help

Patriot Act, second to Master Command in the Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 10, will be out for revenge in the Grade 2, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on Saturday. Patriot Act, by A.P. Indy, has won just once in his last seven starts, but has finished in the money in four straight races, including three straight stakes at Fair Grounds this meet.

"He's such a victim of pace all the time," said his trainer, Neil Howard. "This might set up better for him."

Robby Albarado, who will ride Patriot Act, said, "If he can get some pace up front, he's got a chance to get a piece of it, for sure."

Master Command, trained by Todd Pletcher, was a six-length winner of the Mineshaft. Patriot Act got a five-pound (120-115) weight break in the Mineshaft. Master Command carries two more pounds this time.

"If Pletcher wasn't coming, then I'd feel good," Howard said.

Another of Howard's older horses, Student Council, is entered in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park on Friday.

Liquor Cabinet, expected to be the second choice in the New Orleans Handicap to Master Command, worked a half-mile in 48.31 seconds on Aqueduct's inner track on Tuesday morning for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.

Strong California contingent arrives

Led by Louisiana Derby favorite Circular Quay, a group of horses based in California traveled by plane to New Orleans on Tuesday for Saturday's stakes-filled card.

Circular Quay was fifth in the Risen Star, his first start since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He was accompanied on the flight by Liquidity, who was second in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita last month.

Also on the flight were Hendrix, King';s Drama, Macduff, and Sweet Return - all scheduled to run in the Grade 2, $500,000 Mervin Muniz Handicap on the turf - and the 3-year-old filly Mistical Plan, who is in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks.

Devilment, Brilliant skip Muniz

Locally based turf horses historically have had plenty of success against bigger name shippers in the Mervin Muniz Handicap, which used to be called the Explosive Bid. But this year's Muniz field, which has 11 horses including Einstein and the mare Naissance Royal, goes without two of the better grass horses stabled in New Orleans. Devilment, who won the Buddy Diliberto Memorial and finished a close second in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup this meet, is being freshened, and Brilliant is not yet ready to make his 4-year-old debut for trainer Neil Howard.

Devilment was a sharp November allowance winner here in his first turf try, and was equally impressive winning the Diliberto over 1 1/16 miles. But even after dictating a moderate pace and opening a clear stretch lead in the Feb. 10 Fair Grounds BC, Devilment was caught at the wire by Cloudy's Knight, the best Fair Grounds-based horse that is in the Muniz. Devilment's performance led trainer Malcolm Pierce to wonder if the horse might be better suited to slightly shorter races, and after three top performances in a fairly brief time span, Devilment was ready for a rest, Pierce decided.

"I've given him a bunch of easy time," said Pierce. "I'm either going to run him at Keeneland, or we've got a pretty good turf schedule at home, but this has been a time to rest."

Home for Pierce is Woodbine, and that's where Devilment may be most likely to resurface. Pierce mentioned the Connaught Cup as a spring target, with the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile later in the year as a potential long-range goal.

Brilliant, who won two graded stakes last year at 3, has logged six published workouts prepping for his 2007 debut, but Howard did not want to bring him back in a spot as challenging as the Muniz.

"He's moving along very nicely, but we just aren't quite ready," Howard said. "I'll have him nominated to the Connally over in Houston, but most likely a race at Keeneland would be where he'll make his first start of the season."

Sousaphone staying on turf

Sousaphone, who blossomed when switched to turf last time out, seeks her second straight victory in Thursday's featured $47,500 allowance race at Fair Grounds.

Sousaphone beat just one horse on the main track in her debut Dec. 3. Switched to the turf on Jan. 25, she rallied boldly to defeat maidens going 1 1/16 miles. The lightly raced daughter of Stravinsky, who is trained by Tom Proctor, now steps into a first-level allowance race and will face nine rivals going 7 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Perfectforthepart figures as one of the main contenders. She was second in a stakes race for Louisiana-breds here on Feb. 17, her first start since a debut win against maidens at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 4.

Jersey Bond drew the outside post in the the field of 10, but has run well in all three of her starts, with a win and two seconds. This will be her first race on turf, but her sire, Johannesburg, was adept on turf and dirt.

– additional reporting by Marcus Hersh