04/10/2005 11:00PM

Blue Grass probables go out to work


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Nearly every probable starter for the 81st Blue Grass Stakes had his final prerace blowout Sunday or Monday, including a five-furlong drill by the probable race favorite, Sun King.

Sun King, with Maxine Correa aboard, went five furlongs Monday in 1:00.80 over a fast Churchill Downs surface. Sun King is one of at least six 3-year-olds expected to start Saturday in the $750,000 Blue Grass at Keeneland.

"He works very, very even, which is a great attribute that he's got," said trainer Nick Zito, who oversaw the work. "I like what he's doing right now."

In other Blue Grass works:

* High Limit, with Joe Deegan up, went five furlongs Monday at Churchill in 59.40 seconds. "He went a little quick, but I think the track was a little quick this morning," said trainer Bobby Frankel.

* Consolidator went five furlongs Sunday at Churchill in 59.60 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

* Bandini breezed five furlongs Monday at Keeneland in 1:00.40 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

* Closing Argument got five furlongs Monday at Keeneland in 1:00.80 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

A sixth Blue Grass starter, Mr Sword, was scheduled to breeze Tuesday morning at Keeneland with Dale Beckner up.

With all jockey assignments confirmed, this is the prospective Blue Grass lineup: Sun King, Edgar Prado; High Limit, Ramon Dominguez; Consolidator, Rafael Bejarano; Bandini, John Velazquez; Closing Argument, Cornelio Velasquez; and Mr Sword, Jerry Bailey.

The Grade 1 Blue Grass appears to be shaping up as the deepest of any prep race run this year toward the May 7 Kentucky Derby. Entries for the 1 1/8-mile race will be drawn Wednesday morning in the Keeneland paddock. The Blue Grass, along with the Arkansas Derby, will be televised live on ESPN starting at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

The Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby are part of a new pick four wager called the Premier Pick Four, which carries a $1 minimum. The other races are the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup from Keeneland and the Instant Racing BC Handicap from Oaklawn Park.

Sharp Lisa may run in Fantasy

Sharp Lisa, scratched from the Ashland with a slightly bruised rear hoof, was able to resume training Sunday morning and has been entered in the Fantasy Stakes on Friday at Oaklawn Park while remaining a contender for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks.

Trainer Doug O'Neill said Monday from California that Sharp Lisa jogged twice around the five-furlong Keeneland training track Sunday morning, then had a routine gallop on the training track Monday morning.

"We're still kind of day-to-day with her," said O'Neill. "She's not 100 percent, but still sound enough for the light training she's done. There's still a little heat in the foot, but we would like to get it ice-cold by Friday so we can run her. If she can't go, then we'll bring her back to California and sit tight until the Oaks."

Little Money Down out of Beaumont

Trainer John T. Ward Jr. said his 3-year-old filly Little Money Down will not run Thursday in the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland after "dinging herself a little" during a recent gallop in south Florida.

Ward said he intended to examine Little Money Down closely on Tuesday "and see where we are with her."

"Right now," he said, "I don't have anything in particular in mind for her. All I can tell you is we're not going to make the Beaumont."

The Beaumont still is expected to get Aspen Tree, Brooke's Halo, Hot Storm, Punch Appeal, and Yankee Penny.

Attendance strong for first weekend

Helped by ideal weather and first-class racing throughout the opening three-day weekend, Keeneland is on a record attendance pace.

The three-day total was 60,749, including the throng of 30,110 who turned out Saturday for the Ashland. Sunday's crowd of 14,828 easily surpassed the 8,916 who showed up on the corresponding date last spring.

* The depth of the jockey and trainer colony Keeneland has attracted was illustrated by the even distribution of wins during the first 28 races. Only one jockey, Robby Albarado, won as many as four races, while three others rode three winners and five more rode two apiece. Only three trainers won as many as two races: Zito, Graham Motion, and Paul McGee.