06/21/2004 12:00AM

Amoss back in the hunt for a title


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Tom Amoss has been in this position many times before. As a race meet winds down, Amoss finds himself in the thick of the battle for a training title and tempted to ask for a little more from his horses than he might if the situation were different.

"I've been down this road enough times that, hopefully, I know that when you get in this type of situation, you've got to be careful to do what's best for the horse," Amoss said.

As the spring meet at Churchill Downs begins its final two-week stretch with a 10-race Wednesday card that begins at 1:15 p.m. Eastern, Amoss and Steve Asmussen each have won 22 races, one fewer than Dale Romans. Two spring meets ago at Churchill, Amoss tied Romans for the training title. For Romans that was one in a string of four, which he is trying to stretch to five this year.

"Unfortunately, I don't really think I have the numbers that Dale has at his disposal," said Amoss. "We've done well to get to the position we're in right now. I just don't know that I've got enough bullets for these last couple of weeks."

Amoss, 42, has been the leading trainer eight times at Fair Grounds in his hometown of New Orleans, but his sharing the 2002 spring title at Churchill with Romans is one of his proudest accomplishments.

"I'd love to have another training title at a meet as prestigious as this one," he said. "But the bottom line is, you can't stray from what you normally do just to win a title for yourself."

Although his numbers may indeed dwindle as the meet winds to its conclusion, Amoss seems to be in a position of strength Wednesday. He is scheduled to run four horses, including Anna Em, the most likely winner of the ninth and featured race, a $55,500 allowance at five furlongs on the turf. Six other fillies and mares are entered.

, a 3-year-old Ohio-bred filly, won the May 15 Open Mind Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths over the Churchill turf course, so she clearly will take plenty of beating for the Wednesday race conditions that essentially translate into a "three other than." In her last start 13 days ago, Anna Em finished second in an off-the-turf race won in track-record time by Put Me In.

Amoss also will have Toliver in the fourth race, Sweet Baby Jane in the seventh, and Aquiess in the 10th.