06/13/2006 11:00PM

Allowance comeback for 'June'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If everything had gone according to plan, might well have been pointing for a second straight run in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. But an injured left hind ankle kept him from starting last year in the Foster, and with the 2006 edition set for Saturday, trainer Bill Cesare is merely glad to have Second of June ready for an allowance race.

Second of June, the talented but injury-plagued 5-year-old who already has had two lengthy layoffs in his career, is one of six older horses entered in a stakes-caliber allowance Friday at Churchill. Cesare, who trains Second of June for his mother, owner Barbara Cesare, said Wednesday that the horse has fully healed from the osselet, or inflamed and irritated joint, that knocked him out of training last year, adding that Second of June has been training steadily in recent months for his comeback.

"I didn't want to run him in anything like the Foster, not after all the down time he'd had," said Cesare. "I just wanted to bring him back in an easy spot, although this isn't that easy, anyway."

Before being forced to the sidelines, Second of June had recorded triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in five of his last six starts, but he probably will not even be favored Friday in the one-mile allowance, which carries a $66,000 purse under classified conditions. That role is likely to fall to Suave, the millionaire 5-year-old who was the beaten favorite in the Clark, Donn, and Gulfstream Park handicaps in his last three starts.

Suave also enters off a layoff, although one of considerably shorter duration than Second of June's. In peak form, Suave would have been a viable candidate for the Foster, but trainer Paul McGee said he elected to "back off and regroup" following Suave's sixth-place finish in the March 4 Gulfstream Cap.

Suave, with Rafael Bejarano to ride, will break from post 1 in the Friday feature, while Second of June, with Robby Albarado up, will start from post 4. Their

opponents are Remind, Greater Good, Tap Dancing Mauk, and Go Now.

Directly preceding the Friday feature is a $62,000, third-level allowance sprint in which Yes Yes Yes, with Bejarano riding for trainer Todd Pletcher, figures as a solid favorite.