06/02/2002 11:00PM

Albarado's injuries aren't severe


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Jockey Robby Albarado may be out of action only two to three weeks with a broken finger and lacerated hand after escaping major injury in a frightening spill Sunday at Churchill Downs.

Albarado was en route to an apparent victory in the fourth race aboard Maestro when the 3-year-old colt suddenly broke down in deep stretch, spilling Albarado. Two trailing horses, including Clear Title, ridden by Pat Day, appeared to strike Albarado.

"Considering everything, he was very fortunate," Albarado's agent, Lenny Pike Jr., said Monday morning.

Pike said Albarado probably would undergo minor surgery to have a small plate inserted in the broken joint, which is midway down the middle finger of his left hand. "The recovery time depends on how much pain Robby experiences when he goes back to using the hand," said Pike. "It all depends on how comfortable he is with it."

Albarado, 28, has suffered injuries in at least four other spills in Kentucky since 1996. He is currently the second-leading rider at the Churchill meet behind Day.

Maestro, a Grindstone colt owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Dallas Stewart, was euthanized.

Meanwhile, in other weekend incidents involving Churchill jockeys:

* Day took off all remaining mounts Sunday following the Maestro spill, saying he was upset about what had happened. The previous afternoon, Day nearly fell during the stretch run of the Louisville Handicap when his mount, Rochester, clipped heels behind the disqualified winner, Two Point Two Mill.

* Tony D'Amico, who was suffering from a sore back following a Saturday spill, was scheduled to see a specialist Monday. Agent T.V. Kegel said D'Amico probably would not ride until at least Friday.

* Sal Gonzalez Jr. said Monday morning that he was okay after a gate incident Sunday. Gonzalez had to take off his mount, Just Cozy, before the sixth race after banging the back of his right arm in the gate. The incident was part of an 18-minute delay prior to the race.

No stranger to disappointment

When veteran trainer Bob DeSensi endured seeing his 67-1 shot Two Point Two Mill finish first in the Louisville Handicap - only to be disqualified - it wasn't the first time that DeSensi has gone through such heartbreak.

"It was about as bad as when I had Tenants Harbor in the Fairmount Derby [in 1995], and he won but got taken down," recalled DeSensi. "They put up Pat Day on Strawberry Wine [trained by Bill Mott]."

DeSensi said he "didn't see the side view" of the Louisville, "but I did see the head-on replay. I guess he had to come down. Boy, it's a tough game."

The unpredictable Miss Lodi

As good as Miss Lodi was in winning her first career start at the Fair Grounds in March, that's how bad she was when badly beaten in her first crack at allowances on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard.

And that's also how good she was Saturday when setting a track record of 1:28.08 for the seldom-run distance of 7 1/2 furlongs.

Considering her two sensational wins, Tom Amoss remains befuddled about her one resounding defeat. "Honestly, I have no earthly idea what was wrong on Derby Day," said Amoss.

Northcote Road retired

Northcote Road, an earner of $729,885 in a yeoman-like turf career, has been retired, trainer Blackie Huffman said last weekend.

Northcote Road won 12 of 54 starts, faring especially well at the Fair Grounds, where he won three stakes. His last career start came here May 11, when he ran fourth in a turf allowance. Huffman said Northcote Road, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Charles Duncker, came out of a recent gallop with a ligament injury.

* Del Diablo, a late-running 2-year-old who finished second to Posse in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup onMay 27, exited the race with bucked shins and is expected to be out of action until the fall, said co-owner Gus Goldsmith.

* Dream Run, who finished last as the odds-on favorite in the Moseley Handicap on Saturday's Mass Cap undercard at Suffolk Downs, will be turned out for a freshening, said trainer Paul McGee.

* Agent Danny Gargan has taken the book of Danny Coa. Former jockey Steve Bass has begun working for Jeff Johnston, who in previous years has ridden mostly at River Downs but is concentrating more on Churchill this year.

* Three allowance races are the highlights of a 10-race card Wednesday, with the ninth race, a $45,500 sprint for older horses, probably being the most attractive of all. Chairman A.P., a recent winner for trainer Dale Romans, could be the horse to beat in a full field of 12. Finder, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, also looms a major contender in the 6 1/2-furlong race. The carryover in the pick six is $21,255. Twilight first post is 3:10 p.m.