10/07/2001 11:00PM

Tiznow 'willing, but not eager'

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Tiznow's seemingly disinterested performance in Sunday's $500,000 Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting left his trainer, Jay Robbins, puzzled Monday morning, but Robbins said Tiznow had emerged from the race well and was still scheduled to run in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park.

"We're still going, as long as he trains well here," Robbins said. Tiznow won last year's Classic at Churchill Downs to secure the Horse of the Year title. A victory this year would make him the first horse to capture the Classic twice since the Breeders' Cup was inaugurated in 1984.

Last year, however, Tiznow came into the Classic off consecutive victories in the Super Derby and Goodwood. In two starts this fall since returning from a six-month layoff, he was third in both the Woodward Stakes and Goodwood.

Robbins said he conferred with both jockey Chris McCarron and veterinarian Dr. Rick Arthur on Sunday evening, after Tiznow was outrun by longshot winner Freedom Crest and pacesetter Skimming. Monday, Robbins said "I don't know what to think" about Tiznow's race in the Goodwood.

"Chris said he was willing, but not eager like he used to be," Robbins said. "Rick said sometimes older horses, if something has happened to them - like with this horse and his back - they're reluctant to put out.

But Chris said he felt perfect, and I liked the way he galloped out afterwards."

Tiznow looked quite well Monday morning, when he merely walked for 45 minutes. He did not appear to have lost weight, an observation to which Robbins agreed. "He looks good," Robbins said.

The only change Robbins said he would make was to stop tranquilizing Tiznow between races. He has been using Acepromazine since April "to make it easier on the exercise rider," but Robbins said he wondered "if there's any residual effect" from long-term use. Robbins said he weans Tiznow from Acepromazine before a race, because horses are not allowed to race on that medication. Tiznow was not on Acepromazine last year.

"I'm going to let him roll, like last year," Robbins said.

Robbins said he would have the same training schedule preceding the Classic as he did last year. Tiznow is scheduled to work seven furlongs on Oct. 18, then ship to New York the week of the race.

Freedom Crest, the 39-1 upset winner of the Goodwood, came out of the race better than his trainer, Richard Baltas. "My throat's a little hoarse," Baltas said Monday. Baltas said no decision would be made on running in the Classic until later in the week. Baltas is leaning toward going, but Freedom Crest is anemic, and Baltas wants to monitor his blood.

"If he looks good, we'll go," Baltas said. "Sometimes stress brings on the anemia. He's on liquid iron. I just want to see how he's doing. I had no idea he'd win. I was just hoping to get third."

Freedom Crest got a moderate Beyer Speed Figure of 108. By contrast, Aptitude got a dazzling 123 for his victory in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

The Classic field figures to be one of the smallest in this year's World Thoroughbred Championships. In addition to Aptitude, Freedom Crest, and Tiznow, those still pointing for the Classic include Albert the Great, Include, and Macho Uno, the Europeans Fantastic Light and Galileo, and possibly Broken Vow and Guided Tour. Lido Palace, the Woodward winner, is unlikely to be supplemented for $800,000.

Fantastic Light was scheduled to be flown to New York on Tuesday after working in England on Monday. Super Derby runner-up E Dubai, like Fantastic Light owned by Godolphin Racing Inc., is unlikely to run in the Classic. In another development Monday, jockey John Velazquez has picked up the mount on Include.

Aptitude continued his resurrection with a 10-length victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, his third consecutive stakes victory. Although trainer Bobby Frankel called the performance "awesome" on Saturday, he wondered later how good a race it was given that Albert the Great, the 6-5 favorite, did not run well.

"With Albert the Great running so bad, you really don't know if he beat much, so maybe it wasn't as impressive," said Frankel, who captured his 13th Grade 1 of the year in the Gold Cup. "He ran great because he was in the bridle the whole way. With Albert the Great not running, I think it made it easier."

Trainer Nick Zito was mystified by Albert the Great's poor performance.

After racing in fourth position for the first half-mile, Albert the Great moved into second midway up the backstretch. He could never get past the pace-setting Generous Rosi and backed up to fourth, 19 3/4 lengths behind Aptitude. It was his worst performance in nine races at Belmont Park, where he is 6 for 9.

"The only thing I can think of is he might have shut himself down when he got up to that horse," said Zito, noting that Albert the Great had done something similar in the 2000 Jim Dandy. Jockey Gary Stevens, said Zito, "thought he had another gear, and he didn't."

Since Zito found nothing physically wrong with the horse, he still intends to run Albert the Great in the Classic. Zito, however, said A P Valentine bled in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and has been retired. On Monday, he was scheduled to ship to Coolmore Stud in Lexington, Ky.

- additional reporting by David Grening