12/07/2007 12:00AM

Spy Story needs better ending

EmailNEW ORLEANS - Spy Story was getting to them late last time out. He'll have to get there a little sooner at the shorter distance of Sunday's ninth race, a $41,000 second-level allowance going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

A 3-year-old Dynaformer colt, Spy Story hasn't figured it all out, but seems to offer the most upside in this field, with steadily improving finishes at this condition level. In his last race, a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Churchill Downs, he was beaten a length while third.

"It was a little shorter than I was looking for," trainer Neil Howard said of Sunday's race, "but he's won at a mile. He'll be okay if he gets a little bit of a pace setup. His last race was pretty good, a tough race at Churchill."

Jockey Robby Albarado will be riding again. "He hasn't put it all together yet," said Albarado. "He ran erratic down the stretch last time out."

The pace is likely to come from the overmatched Valid Run, who will break from post 3, and from Tactical Weapon, who will be breaking from post 5.

Tactical Weapon could wire the field if he takes to the turf. He has run three times on grass, with one second-place finish to show for it, but has been running better in his last three starts, all on Polytrack. His recent improvement begs the question: Is he better in general, or has he been better lately because he hasn't been running on the turf?

Neither turf qualifications nor the distance are in question for Master Mizzen, who came home first in his last two efforts, both times going a mile on the turf. He qualifies for this condition through the disqualification of his first victory. He was placed second after drifting out and into the horse named as the winner.

French Beret, who is coming of a three-quarter-length loss while finishing fourth in the Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine will be running late. With plans to give him a rest afterward, the Sam-Son outfit will be leaving nothing in the tank.

"We're going to run him here one time, and then give him a rest," said assistant trainer Hugh Chatman. "He's sharp and in good order. The two turns will mean everything to him."