02/11/2008 12:00AM

Which star ran better?


NEW ORLEANS - Indian Blessing got from Point A to Point B much faster than did Pyro on Saturday at Fair Grounds, running 1 1/16 miles in the Silverbulletday Stakes almost one second faster than Pyro did winning the Risen Star. But while Indian Blessing visibly tired in her final furlong, Pyro came through the stretch like he had been shot from a cannon, covering his final quarter-mile in less than 23 seconds on the way to an improbable last-to-first win.

The question of which horse - filly or colt - ran a better race figures to occasion lively debate among racing fans this week, and fortunately, both horses emerged in good physical shape, their trainers said Monday.

While Pyro is a likely starter in the Louisiana Derby here on Marcho8, Indian Blessing was scheduled to return to trainer Bob Baffert's home base in California on Tuesday.

"I'm going to get her back here and monitor her here. She wasn't as tired as she was the one before," said Baffert, referring to Indian Blessing's narrow win last month at Santa Anita.

Baffert said Indian Blessing was likely to make her next start on dirt, adding that she was now firmly being pointed to the Kentucky Oaks. Indian Blessing, still undefeated after five starts, has looked ripe for passing in the stretch run of her two two-turn races, but she so far has held off all challengers, and did so Saturday through the longest stretch in North America.

"That's why I took her down there, to see if she could handle that," Baffert said. "A true two-turn horse will get it done."

Indian Blessing was timed in 1:43.75, and was given a Beyer Speed Figure of 99. Pyro was timed in 1:44.68, worth only a 90 Beyer, but there was no way Pyro could have run a fast final time. The Silverbulletday's first half-mile was run in 47.15 seconds, while the Risen Star went in a glacial 49.50. At that juncture, Pyro was last of 11, about seven lengths behind the leaders, and in 11th he stayed until launching a memorable run at the top of the stretch.

"Pyro's race was extremely impressive," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "It wasn't a fast final time, but I was concerned about it being too hard a race. He ran a quarter-mile, and how hard was that?"

Asmussen said both Pyro and Z Fortune, who lost for the first time while finishing second in the Risen Star, would breeze next Monday. Plans for Z Fortune aren't set, Asmussen said.

The trainer hopes to meet with owner Ahmed Zayat "and we'll map out a plan," Asmussen said. "I think we'll know a lot, how much it took out of him, after he breezes. Hopefully, he's still moving forward."