06/02/2008 12:00AM

Bold Start takes spot in sprint

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Bold Start could have started from an outside post facing the likes of Inca King and some other turf pros Saturday in the Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill Downs, but trainer Ken McPeek thought discretion would be the better part of valor.

"When things go his way, he's very tough," said McPeek. "But from the 11 hole, the Opening Verse looked a little tricky for us, so we scratched."

A Wednesday allowance race at Churchill instead will serve as a more attractive alternative for Bold Start. As one of six older horses entered in the eighth of nine races, a $50,400 money-conditioned allowance, Bold Start will be going seven furlongs on the main track - a notable contrast to the Opening Verse, a 1 1/16-mile turf race won by Inca King.

Bold Start, said McPeek, "can run on anything - short, long, dirt, turf. He's very versatile."

Owned by Larry Carroll, Bold Start has earned just over $300,000, with 5 wins and 12 in-the-money finishes from 19 starts. The 4-year-old colt has been stakes-placed on several occasions, which puts him in the same league with several of his Wednesday opponents.

Forty Grams, who ended his 3-year-old season by racing in eight straight stakes last year, is one of those rivals. The colt made his seasonal debut by finishing fourth in a tough allowance race on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard.

Officer Rocket is another stakes-seasoned 4-year-old. He has been quite active this year, having posted a win and 2 seconds from 5 starts.

Mister Trieste, a 7-year-old with nearly $600,000 in earnings, is the graybeard of the group. A multiple stakes winner in 2006 at several tracks in the far Southwest, Mister Trieste has won 15 of 34starts.

Cougar Cat, making his first start in more than six months, was good enough to run second to Fabulous Strike in the Aristides here last summer but went off form as the year unfolded.

True Course rounds out the field.

* The spring meet handicapping contests begin Wednesday. Cash prizes and two berths in the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas next January are up for grabs every Wednesday and Sunday, with the finals set for June 29.