05/04/2006 12:00AM

Battle Won faces Charging Indian in repeat bid


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - His upset wasn't quite the magnitude of Giacomo's win in last year's Kentucky Derby, but Battle Won did provide one of the more shocking results on Derby Day 2005 when he rallied to an easy 3 1/2-length victory at 16-1 in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Battle Won's supporters will have to settle for a much shorter price when he returns to defend his title in this year's seven-furlong Churchill Downs BC Handicap, one of the more competitive of the five stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

, trained by Charles Simon, has gone winless in six tries since winning this race a year ago, but did finish second on four of those occasions, including in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap and Grade 1 Forego. He returned from his 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint to finish second in a money allowance race at Keeneland April 12.

"He was a little short in the race at Keeneland and got beat by a pretty good horse," Simon said, referring to the undefeated Charging Indian, who will be among the top contenders on Saturday. "But my horse looked good working here last Sunday, and he seems to be coming into the race as good as he did last year, when his win wasn't any surprise to me."

is unbeaten in four starts, posting his most impressive victory when he drew off to a four-length decision over Battle Won.

finished second in this race a year ago but has won three times since, including Turfway Park's Marfa Stakes in September.

With Distinction turns back to a sprint off a series of longer races that included a second- place finish in the nine-furlong San Antonio Handicap, a Grade 2 at Santa Anita on Feb. 5.

Tricky Trevor shortens up for the first time since September. He disputed the early pace before fading to seventh in the 2005 Churchill Downs BC Handicap.

Distaff Turf: Firmer better for Wend

The goal for Wend's 2006 season is to win a Grade 1 race, and if Wend is really a turf mare of Grade 1 quality, she should win the Grade 3 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile on Saturday.

Eleven were entered in the $100,000 Distaff Turf Mile, and Wend, with 7 victories in her 10 grass starts, looks like the clear favorite. But there are some unknown variables. How good is Lock and Key, a recent Irish import who displayed a zingy turn of foot in down-the-hill turf sprints on the Santa Anita grass course? What to make of Sis City, a Grade 1 winner on dirt who never has raced on grass, and hasn't raced at all since a distant fourth-place finish last summer in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga? And perhaps most pertinent to Wend's chances, what will the turf condition be here Saturday?

A chance of rain is in the forecast right up until Derby Day, and a wet course bodes ill for Wend.

"Catching firm ground is important for her," said Bill Mott, who trains Wend for Claiborne Farm, her breeder.

Wend, whose best win last season came over Wonder Again and Film Maker in the Grade 2 New York Handicap, has seven wins and a second racing on firm courses, but finished sixth in both her tries over wet ground. Still, everything could be different this year.

"She's more mature now, better seasoned," Mott said. "She's been a little difficult, a little headstrong, but we've figured some things out in the morning to help her with that, and consequently she's rating better in the afternoon."

Wend has convincing wins in both her 2006 starts, the most recent the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, and her tactical speed keeps her out of trouble in a bulky field like Saturday's. Lock and Key, on the other hand, looks like a horse best suited to racing behind horses in mid-pack and looking for room to unleash a quick burst in the stretch, so she and jockey Alex Solis may need racing luck.

- Marcus Hersh

La Troienne: Hello, Adieu

When the filly Adieu established herself as one of the top 2-year-old fillies of 2005 by winning the Grade 2 Spinaway and Grade 1 Frizette, she did so without recording a Beyer Speed Figure higher than a modest 84.

And since finishing a well-beaten seventh in the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Adieu has not raced again. Meanwhile, many of the fillies in her class have had the time to develop and catch up to her, all of which presents a very interesting scenario when Adieu makes her 3-year-old debut Saturday in the $100,000 La Troienne Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

Adieu, trained by Todd Pletcher, was sent to Florida shortly after her Breeders' Cup defeat, moving to Payson Park, then Palm Meadows, before being shipped to Churchill in early April. If the number of workouts a horse is sent through during a layoff means anything, then Adieu comes into the 7 1/2-furlong La Troienne fully prepared: From Jan. 22 to April 29, the filly shows 13 recorded works.

Rafael Bejarano, whose only previous ride aboard Adieu resulted in a victory in the Astoria Stakes last July at Belmont Park, gets the mount back from the injured John Velazquez.

Eight other 3-year-old fillies will face Adieu in the Grade 3 La Troienne, with perhaps the strongest challengers being Sweet Belle, a two-time winner at Santa Anita over the winter; Lake Alice, runner-up at 45-1 in the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland; Beholden, a sharp allowance winner at Gulfstream in her last start; and the uncoupled Dale Romans duo of Smart N Pretty and Joint Effort.

Rounding out the field are Morner, Tactical Warning, and Classical Ryder. The La Troienne, formerly run the Thursday before Derby, makes its Derby undercard debut as the sixth race.

- Marty McGee