03/16/2007 12:00AM

Unbeaten Corrupt goes after win No. 4


NEW ORLEANS - At the end of the 2004-05 meet, the first season of Churchill Downs Inc.'s stewardship of Fair Grounds, track president Randy Soth noted that the meet should end with a big event rather than peter out after Louisiana Derby Day. Track management accordingly has lined up a series of stakes races for the final weekend of the meet, which is next weekend. Thursday and Friday feature smaller restricted stakes for Mississippi-owned horses and Alabama-breds; Saturday's and Sunday's cards each feature five stakes races.

The undefeated 3-year-old Corrupt returns in Saturday's $100,000 Grindstone Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. In his last start, Corrupt cruised to victory in the Mardi Gras Handicap in February, for this third straight win. The Mardi Gras was his first race since he won the Grand Canyon Handicap at Churchill Downs Nov. 25 for trainer Chris Block, who sent Corrupt to Fair Grounds under the care of trainer Jeff Trosclair.

"Corrupt breezed five furlongs this morning," said Trosclair. "He worked very well. He went in 1:02, and did it very easily. [Rider] Robby Albarado said he was impressive and did everything he wanted. We're looking for some good things from him, so we're pretty excited about it."

Shortly after Corrupt's win in the Mardi Gras, Team Block sold a half-interest in the homebred colt to Will Farish, whose Lane's End Farm stands Corrupt's sire, Belong to Me. Corrupt will be based in Chicago with Block through the Arlington meet this summer.

Trosclair has another good grass horse from Block in his barn, Fort Prado, who is being pointed to the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf on April 7 at Sam Houston.

"Fort Prado is training up to the Connally," said Trosclair. "We decided to just skip the Mervin Muniz and train him up for the Connally."

Saturday's card also includes the $100,000 Louisiana Lagniappe Classic, a potential showdown between Mean Butterbean and the improving Nowandforevermore, who finished fourth, beaten less than two lengths by repeat winner Desert Wheat, in the Dixie Poker Ace last out.

"He was in trouble in that last race and still was right there at the end," said Gary Palmisano, manager for the Krantz stable. "He came out of it real good, and I'll probably just two-minute lick him. I don't need to put a full work into him because he's been running all meet and he's as fit as he's going to get. I'm more concerned about him going back to the dirt, because he looks like he really enjoyed the turf."

Nevertheless, Nowandforevermore has two solid scores on the main track earlier this meet at Fair Grounds and appears to handle any surface.

"He's good on the dirt, too - he's kind of an either-way horse," said Palmisano, "but I just think he's a little better on the turf. He did look good winning those two dirt races. Mean Butterbean looks like the one to beat in here, though."

Cryptoquip getting ready for return

Cryptoquip, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Park Breeders' Cup Oaks last year, has been preparing for her first race since last fall at Fair Grounds for trainer Tom Proctor.

"She's coming along well," said Proctor on Friday. "She's still a little ways away. She's slated to go a half-mile tomorrow."

Proctor has no specific plans for the 4-year-old Cryptoquip but is looking forward to getting her back in action. "She'll run at Keeneland," he said.

Proctor was less sure about the next assignment for Purim, winner of the Col. E.R. Bradley Stakes at Fair Grounds in January. Purim has been on the work tab but has no immediate goal.

"Purim is doing well," said Proctor. "Right now we don't really have any plans to run him. He's going to go to Keeneland after Fair Grounds, and once we get up there we'll see."

Creative Force wheels back quickly

Last year Creative Force ran in several graded stakes on the grass, but his Fair Grounds meet has been plagued by rain-outs. Trainer Jeff Trosclair ran Creative Force in the Woodchopper in December, but the race was washed off the grass and Creative Force ran poorly in the slop, finishing third of four runners. His next race was also switched to the main track, and he ran an unthreatening fourth. Last Saturday he finally found a grass race and made a middle move into contention before fading behind the good-looking Dubai Gold.

Trosclair wheels Creative Force right back in Sunday's feature race, a second-level allowance for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Tiger Bait is also returning on short rest after winning a first-level allowance on March 9, his first race since Dec. 16. He is obviously in sharp form and is the likely pacesetter.

Westmoreland, Heart of a Leader, and Go to the Sun, the two-three-four finishers in Hyte Regency's Feb. 25 victory, all return to test this condition again.

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh