06/03/2001 11:00PM

Baffert: Captain Steve 'not there' yet


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Captain Steve and his main challenger in the upcoming Stephen Foster Handicap, Unshaded, both went through serious drills Monday over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.

With trainer Bob Baffert watching, Captain Steve breezed seven furlongs in 1:25.60 under Sal Gonzalez Jr. Baffert is still concerned that Captain Steve, winner of the March 24 Dubai World Cup in his previous start, has yet to return to 100 percent form following the arduous overseas journey.

"I loved his work today," said Baffert. "It was a nice work, but he's not there, where he was before."

Captain Steve will have one more work before going postward as the likely highweight and favorite in the $750,000 Foster, a Grade 2 race at 1 1/8 miles on June 16. The race is expected to attract a small field of older horses.

Unshaded, a recent winner of an allowance prep, breezed four furlongs in 48.40 seconds for trainer Carl Nafzger.

The Foster will be televised on the NTRA Champion series on CBS.

Prather, out since mid-March, returns Wednesday

While two apprentice riders have mounts in the $46,800 feature race at Churchill Downs, it is the re-emergence of another "bug," Kris Prather, that is most noteworthy about the Wednesday program, which begins at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Prather, idle since she was injured in a starting-gate accident March 17, will ride Frills and Thrills in the first race of the day. It is her only mount of the program. "We're going to get her going back gradually," agent Steve Elzey said.

Prather, 22, led all North American jockeys in victories until several weeks after being sidelined.

Meanwhile, Axel Dasilva, who rode two winners Sunday, and Orlando Mojica, a new arrival from south Florida for agent Terry "Jaws" Miller, have mounts in the 1 1/16-mile feature. Dasilva rides Satsuma, and Mojica will climb aboard Royal No Trump. A field of six fillies and mares has been entered.

* After going un-hit the last three days of racing, the pick six will have a carryover of $30,118 Wednesday. The wager is offered on races three through eight.

* For the third time in her career, Evelite lit up the Churchill toteboard, winning a turf race for trainer Roger Anderson at long odds in Sunday's feature. A 4-year-old filly, she rallied along the inside hedge to win the $51,400 allowance, returning $48.40. In two previous triumphs at Churchill, Evelite returned win mutuels of $148 and $43.60.