07/03/2002 12:00AM

A.P. Five Hundred in flower after late bloom


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - While many 3-year-olds make names for themselves on the Triple Crown trail, there are far more who miss out on that opportunity. A lack of talent is the most common limiting factor, but there are also horses whose chances to shine are preempted for other reasons.

This seems the case with A.P. Five Hundred, a $700,000 yearling purchase whose trainer, Niall O'Callaghan, believed the colt might have been a classics contender last spring. But A.P. Five Hundred "had a couple of 2-year-old things going on" during his juvenile season, said O'Callaghan, and "the next thing we knew, he was 3" - and lacking the seasoning required to make a serious push to prominence.

O'Callaghan had little choice but to wait for A.P. Five Hundred's nagging problems to subside, and only recently has the colt been ready to make an impact. After a sensational maiden victory last month, A.P. Five Hundred wheels back as the probable favorite Friday in an entry-level allowance, a one-mile race that serves as the feature at Churchill Downs.

A.P. Five Hundred, by A.P. Indy, is owned by a partnership that includes Will Farish and several of O'Callaghan's longtime clients. Farish consigned the colt at the 2000 Saratoga yearling sales before agreeing to retain a share. O'Callaghan said the colt began to show considerable ability in the last race on Kentucky Oaks day.

"That was a huge race, and then when he came back, that was pretty good, too," said O'Callaghan, who is enjoying a banner year with such horses as Wiseman's Ferry, Chamrousse, and Hail the Chief. "I am very excited about his potential."

A.P. Five Hundred is one of 10 horses entered in the ninth of 10 Friday races. Self Esteem, trained by Bob Baffert, appears to be the most formidable challenger. Robby Albarado gets the mount on A.P. Five Hundred because Pat Day, who rode the colt in the maiden victory, is scheduled to be away for the final three days of the meet.

* Friday is a weekday program that normally would have carried a twilight post, but Churchill officials have made first post a uniform 1:10 p.m. Eastern for the balance of the 52-day spring meet, which ends Sunday.

Ramseys leading owners again

When the meet ends Sunday, Ken and Sarah Ramsey will have set a Churchill record for most consecutive meets as leading owner.

The Ramseys, who live in Artemus, a small central Kentucky town, will have topped the standings for the last five meets, dating to the 2000 spring meet. They previously were tied with Jim Devaney, who was the leading owner for four straight meets in the mid-1980's.

Ken Ramsey, who made his fortune in the cellular phone industry, said last year he wanted to gradually downsize his stable while upgrading its quality. But after he realized he could set this record, he continued to maintain a high number of horses, most of which are trained by Chuck Simon. Ramsey said he eventually intends to scale down while focusing on well-bred young horses.

Small 2-year-old fields expected

Churchill racing officials are still expecting small to midsized fields for the two 2-year-old stakes that close out the meet.

Probable starters for the $100,000 Debutante on Saturday include Attemptress, Awesome Humor, Blues in Seattle, Bridget Says, D'Nile, and Vibs.

Probables for the male counterpart, the $125,000 Bashford Manor on Sunday, are Air Lordan, Boston Park, Cooper Crossing, Lone Star Sky, Posse, White Cat, and Wild Bid.

The Grade 2 Bashford Manor is run at six furlongs, a sixteenth of a mile longer than the Grade 3 Debutante.