09/09/2007 11:00PM

Tiz Wonderful takes on easier task


ELMONT, N.Y. - The connections of Tiz Wonderful knew it was ambitious asking their 3-year-old to compete against Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in the Jim Dandy Stakes with a horse making his first start in eight months and coming off a tendon injury.

They have set their sights significantly lower for Tiz Wonderful's second start of the year, which comes in Wednesday's $75,000 More Than Ready Stakes at Belmont Park. While there is no Street Sense in the field, Tiz Wonderful will have a formidable foe in E Z Warrior, a multiple stakes winner who is coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 King's Bishop 18 days earlier at Saratoga.

The More Than Ready, with seven entered, is run at one mile and could serve as a prep for the Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Breeders' Cup here on Oct. 7.

Tiz Wonderful went 3 for 3 as a 2-year-old, including a pair of graded stakes wins at Churchill Downs. He suffered a tendon injury while training at Fair Grounds during the winter and didn't return to the work tab until early June.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said he chose to run Tiz Wonderful in the Jim Dandy off the layoff because Saratoga was a track his horse had trained and raced over successfully as a 2-year-old. He raced competitively in the Jim Dandy for seven furlongs before tiring to last, 15 lengths behind Street Sense.

"I just think we're looking at the best possible spot to get him back on track, to compete at that [top] level,'' said Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen. "I think he definitely needed that race after having so much time off. To run against that level of horse is a lot to ask of any horse. He came out of the race great, and he's trained forwardly since."

Tiz Wonderful figures to be on or near the pace under John Velazquez from post 6.

E Z Warrior won the first three races of his career, including the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship last July and the San Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita in January. Sore shins then foot problems caused him to miss the first half of his 3-year-old season.

E Z Warrior stumbled at the start of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 29 and finished last. Breaking from the rail in the King's Bishop last month at Saratoga, E Z Warrior brushed the side of the gate and was last of 11 early on. He finished with some interest to be third behind Hard Spun and First Defence.