10/19/2004 11:00PM

Battle Won goes for two in row

JJ Zamaiko Photography
Battle Won captures the KC Turf Dash last time out.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - He was terrific at raw, rural Kentucky Downs. Now Battle Won will step into the refined elegance of Keeneland when he tries for back-to-back wins Friday in the $75,000 Woodford County Stakes.

The Woodford County comes nearly four weeks after Battle Won notched the first stakes victory of his 12-race career in the Kentucky Cup Turf Dash at Kentucky Downs. Ten horses, plus two also-eligibles, have been entered in the Woodford County, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race.

Chuck Simon, who has trained Battle Won since buying the gelding on behalf of owner Jay Manoogian in May, believes Battle Won stands an excellent chance of repeating his Kentucky Downs effort. Rafael Bejarano, the leading rider at the Keeneland fall meet, will be back aboard Battle Won when he breaks from post 10.

"I like the spot, and I like the post position," said Simon. "There's a lot of speed to the inside, so we should get a good trip. I'm not happy about picking up eight pounds [from 116 to 124] from the last race, but that's the way it goes when you win. If he runs like he's been training, he should win again."

There are plenty of battle-proven veterans to give Battle Won a run for his money Friday. Those worthy challengers include Mighty Beau, fourth with a legitimate excuse in the KC Turf Dash; Justice for Auston, who has been first or second in all six of his starts this year and will have Pat Day aboard Friday; Abderian, a Maryland shipper who has nine career turf wins; Banned in Boston, who ran well to be third in the Kentucky Cup Mile in his last start; and Marley's Revenge and Chosen Chief, the respective one-two finishers in a tough overnight handicap at Arlington Park last month.

The lone filly in the field, Dyna Da Wyna, was entered Thursday at Keeneland in the Clark County Stakes and could be scratched.

The Woodford County is the ninth of 10 races on a Friday card that starts at 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

The eighth race, a $52,000 entry-level allowance route, matches several promising 2-year-olds, including Devilment, Father Weiss, and Magna Graduate, who recently was purchased by Elisabeth Alexander and will make his first start for trainer Pat Byrne.

Late scratches play havoc with trifecta rule

The confounding Kentucky regulation that requires a minimum number of starters for trifecta wagering was enforced Wednesday at Keeneland - but it appears that rule's days are numbered.

The horses were about to be loaded in gate for the second race, which had six starters, when Brentlin was scratched by the state veterinarian, leaving a field of five. Under existing Kentucky regulations, trifecta wagering with five or fewer starters is not permitted except in stakes races, so a refund of the entire trifecta pool had to be made. Anyone not paying close attention to what occurred may have been very unhappy if he or she held the 5-3-4 combination after the race.

On a few prior occasions, the rule has created widespread havoc when a field of six went into the gate but one of the horses ultimately was declared a non-starter. In those cases, fans holding what they believed to be winning tickets were informed afterward that they were not winners. Moreover, losing tickets that actually were worth their purchase price often were discarded because fans were unaware that a refund was forthcoming.

"We're trying to get rid of it," said Rick Leigh, a longtime Kentucky racing official who works as a steward at Keeneland. "Obviously it creates the potential for bad situations."

Soon after the new administration of Gov. Ernie Fletcher took office early this year, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority asked the public for suggestions that would revise current rules or regulations.

At a KHRA meeting Monday in Louisville, board member Doug Hendrickson said the committee overseeing those proposed changes was meeting "very frequently" and that the committee's final recommendations would be released soon.