07/04/2008 11:00PM

Big finish appropriate for this meet


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - "Eventful" would an understated way to describe the 2008 spring meet at Churchill Downs. Big Brown, Eight Belles, Proud Spell, an account-wagering controversy, a 20-percent purse cut, the new Super High Five bet, Curlin, medication positives, and the closing of Ellis Park have all helped to make for 10 weeks of highs and lows.

Now the curtain comes down with a closing-day card that figures to go onto the "good news" ledger. A terrific 27th running of the $150,000 Locust Grove anchors the 52nd and final program Sunday, with a cast of fillies and mares to suggest a renewal that easily merits its Grade 3 ranking.

Seven of the 10 starters in the Locust Grove are stakes winners, including the highweights, Brownie Points (120 pounds) and Bayou's Lassie (119). Both are in particularly good form and should make their presence felt in the Locust Grove, a one-mile turf fixture that has been shortened by one furlong this year. It had been run at 1 1/8 miles every year since 1990.

Brownie Points, a remarkably consistent Pin Oak Stable homebred, comes out of a drawing-off victory in the Grade 3 Ouija Board at her current base, Lone Star Park. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Brownie Points will break from post 2 under regular rider Luis Quinonez.

Bayou's Lassie, a Jacks or Better Farm homebred who will be ridden by Robby Albarado, was a good fourth in her last race, the Grade 1 Just a Game on the June 7 Belmont Stakes undercard. Before that, the 5-year-old mare posted a 12-1 upset in the Grade 3 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard.

"She came out of the Just a Game in great shape," said trainer Dale Romans. "Plus I

really liked the way she breezed the other day," when going a half-mile Tuesday on the Churchill turf.

Other viable contenders in the Locust Grove include Genuine Devotion, Meribel, Tears I Cry, and Say You Will.

The Locust Grove is the ninth of 11 races on a program with far bigger fields than during most of the meet. Three allowances (races 2, 4, and 8) also are on tap. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

Because Sunday is closing day, there cannot be carryovers in either the pick six or Super High Five, meaning payouts will be made even in the case of no perfect tickets.