04/25/2003 11:00PM

Biancone calls audible and puts work on turf


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Saturday may not have been the busiest morning on the Kentucky Derby workout patrol, but logistically it was the most difficult to cover. It began at 5:15 a.m. when Ten Cents a Shine stepped on the Churchill Downs track and ended five hours later at Keeneland following Brancusi's one-mile work over the turf.

Brancusi was originally scheduled to work on the dirt, but trainer Patrick Biancone switched his plans and moved the drill to the grass after overnight rains left the main track muddy for training hours at Keeneland on Saturday. Amazingly, the turf course appeared to be in good shape despite the rain, although it was officially listed as yielding.

Brancusi entered the course along with stablemate Tarkovsky at 10 a.m. following the close of regular training hours on the main track. They jogged to midstretch, then broke off at the one-mile marker with Tarkovsky a length in front of his stablemate.

The pair appeared to be in little more than an open gallop as they proceeded to cut out fractions of 25.88 seconds, 51.76, and 1:19.78 for the quarter-mile, half-mile, and six-furlong splits. Entering the stretch, rider Brice Blanc eased Tarkovsky off the rail, and Brancusi, under regular rider Tony Farina, quickly slipped inside to challenge without need of urging. He then just as rapidly pulled away by nearly five lengths after completing his final quarter in 24.90 seconds. Brancusi was clocked a mile in 1:44.68 by Daily Racing Form, surprisingly fast considering the extremely easy manner in which the work was accomplished.

Brancusi's final major Derby prep was a bit unorthodox, but he did what was asked of him with consummate ease and from all appearances is coming into the race at the top of his game.

Brancusi was the only Derby contender to work on Saturday, but most of the others galloped over a Churchill track officially rated good, but which was fast and relatively dry at opening time.

Ten Cents a Shine was the first horse on the track. Accompanied by trainer D. Wayne Lukas aboard his stable pony, he jogged to the half-mile pole. At that point he broke off into such a spirited gallop that under the cover of darkness it almost appeared Lukas had changed plans and decided to work his colt. Instead Ten Cents a Shine settled into a two-minute pace while kept well out in the middle of the track, fairly dragging his rider out of the saddle as he proceeded to continue that pace for 1 1/2 miles before pulling up shortly past the wire.

Scrimshaw followed about an hour behind Ten Cents a Shine and also turned in a strong gallop over a track that was becoming increasingly wetter as the morning progressed.

Elloluv was the lone Kentucky Oaks horse to work on Saturday, coming out after the renovation break. She breezed six furlongs in 1:13.52, going her opening quarter in 25.38 seconds and a half in 49.22, according to Daily Racing Form. She completed her final quarter in 24.30 seconds with jockey Robby Albarado shaking the reins at her on three occasions through the final furlong.

- additional reporting by David Grening