05/26/2006 12:00AM

Arce intends to establish roots in Kentucky


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Apprentice rider Josue' Arce, who left Florida after a decent Gulfstream Park meet to give the Kentucky circuit a try, scored his first Churchill Downs victory when he guided Diamondsintheway to a 2 3/4-triumph in the fifth race Thursday.

The mount was the 27th at Churchill for Arce, who said Friday: "I was hoping that would come soon."

Arce wasted little time getting his second Churchill victory when Lifes Crown won the fifth race Friday.

Arce, 20, migrated from Puerto Rico several years ago and began working as a groom at Calder. He began riding races in late 2004 and has fared respectably since, winning 32 races last year at Calder and another 17 at the Gulfstream meet that ended April 23. Overall, Arce now has 66 career wins.

Arce said his five-pound apprentice allowance is scheduled to expire within the next two weeks, but he is hopeful he can begin building momentum and become a factor for the remainder of the Churchill meet and at the Ellis Park meet that begins July 19.

"I really work because I love this job," said Arce, whose agent is Richard DePass Jr. "I came here to do my dream. I want to make Kentucky my home."

Brass Hat preps for Foster

Brass Hat inched closer toward his next race, the June 17 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill, when he breezed an easy five furlongs Thursday in 1:05.20 over a muddy track at the Trackside training center.

Trainer Buff Bradley once again acknowledged that Brass Hat, who finished second in his most recent start, the March 25 Dubai World Cup, is not a very swift work horse.

"He got something out of it," said Bradley. "For him, I think it was a very good work."

Also on the Thursday work tab was Suave, who was the beaten favorite behind Brass Hat in both the Donn and Gulfstream Park handicaps. Suave went five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Churchill.

Six probable for Louisville

At least six turf runners are expected for the Monday feature at Churchill, the $100,000 Louisville Handicap.

Einstein and Pellegrino will be the starting highweights at 119 pounds apiece in the Louisville, a Grade 3 race run at 1 3/8 miles. Other probables include the two-time defending champion, Silverfoot (118), along with Quest Star (116), Dynatonia (115), and Ramazutti (114).

A day for chalk

Short fields yielded small payoffs at Churchill on Thursday, when one of the least attractive programs so far this meet was offered. The first three winners on the nine-race card all were odds-on favorites, with the winning $2 pick three returning just $10.60.

The Thursday feature, which had just five starters after being transferred from the turf to the main track, was won by Fiery Dancer ($6.60), with Red Cherries Spin finishing third as an odds-on choice.

Heavy traffic on website

Churchill has reported that hits on its kentuckyderby.com website increased by 41 percent over last year during Derby week, from 8 million page viewers in 2005 to 11.3 million this year. During the NBC broadcast of the Derby, the website was serving more than 5,000 hits per second.

Jeremy Borseth, senior director of Internet operations for Churchill, said the track made a "number of refinements with horse racing fans in mind" to both the Derby and Kentucky Oaks websites for this year. "We are delighted by the customer response."

* Churchill is accepting entries for its annual golf tournament, to be held June 12 at Audubon Country Club. The shotgun format begins at 1 p.m. More information is available by calling (502) 638-6310.