05/14/2006 11:00PM

Bushfire to continue racing in big leagues


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Bushfire, the Ashland Stakes winner who finished third before being disqualified to sixth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks, probably will have her first breeze since the Oaks this coming weekend and will continue running in the best races in the 3-year-old filly division, trainer Eddie Kenneally said Monday.

Kenneally said Bushfire will be pointed to the June 10 Acorn, the July 1 Mother Goose, and/or the July 15 Delaware Oaks.

"She came out of the Oaks in very good shape," said Kenneally. "It was a rough-run race, and we didn't have the best of trips, but all in all we were not too disappointed with our filly."

Bushfire was among a crowd of horses at the sixteenth pole when she bumped longshot Red Cherries Spin just as the eventual winner, Lemons Forever, swept past.

"The winner is an improving filly and was certainly suited for the distance," said Kenneally. "I'm sure we'll meet up again with her down the road."

Brass Hat has first work post-Dubai

Brass Hat, the 5-year-old gelding who lost his $1.2 million share for finishing second in the Dubai World Cup because of a medication positive, had his first breeze since that March 25 race when he went an easy half-mile in 50.20 seconds Saturday at the Trackside training center.

Trainer Buff Bradley, whose father, Fred, bred and owns Brass Hat, said the June 17 Stephen Foster and Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Classic are the primary goals the rest of the year. Both races will be run at Churchill.

The Bradleys remain dismayed at the positive ruling by officials at Nad Al Sheba for a corticosteroid known as methyl prednisolone acetate. Not only did the Bradleys lose the purse, but Buff Bradley was fined $5,400. The Bradleys have appealed the ruling. Buff Bradley said he followed all medication guidelines provided by Nad Al Sheba officials.

"We need to fight it and let people know what really happened," he said.

Three horses, no strange incidents

When the second race Sunday at Churchill Downs scratched down from six to three starters, veteran trainer Sonny Wigginton was reminded of the only other time he had a starter in a three-horse race.

"It was over the jumps, and Hal Steele won the race," recalled Wigginton. "I was second, and the third horse didn't finish. In fact, he ended up going into the crowd and stepped on a couple that was underneath a blanket under a tree. Damnedest thing I've ever seen in all my years in racing."

There were no such misadventures Sunday when Aubee's Amali, trained by Wigginton, won easily as the odds-on favorite.

This time, Yate's Black Cat stays up

Yate's Black Cat officially won for the first time Sunday when he prevailed under first-level allowance conditions - as a maiden, and as the favorite - on the Churchill turf. And although the 3-year-old colt could run back in an identical race, trainer Dale Romans said he won't bother.

"He's too good to waste any more time going through conditions," said Romans, who trained the 2004 turf champion, Kitten's Joy. Romans said the June 17 Jefferson Cup at Churchill, followed by the rich summer series of 3-year-old turf races at Colonial Downs, are up next for Yate's Black Cat.

Yate's Black Cat had finished first twice before Sunday, only to be disqualified from both wins. While still a maiden, he finished a close second in the Forerunner Stakes last month at Keeneland, his last race before his Sunday victory.

Lawyer Ron, Sharp Humor recovering

Lawyer Ron and Sharp Humor, the respective 12th- and 19th-place finishers in the Kentucky Derby, both are resting comfortably in their Churchill stalls after undergoing minor surgery last week. Both are expected back for late summer campaigns, according to their connections.

Lawyer Ron had a chip removed from a hind ankle, while Sharp Humor had a knee chip removed. Romans, who trains Sharp Humor, said the surgery went very well and the chip was "in a good spot."

"Fortunately," Romans said, "it hadn't done any damage to the joint."

Scherer moves into third place

Trainer Merrill Scherer had a hot hand last week at Churchill. Scherer won three races Friday and another one Saturday, giving him five wins at the meet, third only to Romans and Todd Pletcher.

Meanwhile, another hotly contested jockeys' race between Rafael Bejarano and apprentice Julien Leparoux is taking shape. Both won races in bunches last week, and heading into Wednesday action, Leparoux held a 22-20 edge. The two jockeys finished in a 17-17 tie atop the Keeneland spring meet standings.

Floral Park scores for Stewart

Dallas Stewart unveiled an eye-catching 2-year-old Saturday when Floral Park won her career debut in the second race Saturday. Floral Park, a Forest Wildcat filly bred and owned by Overbrook Farm, "has led the pack of some pretty nice babies we've got over there," said Stewart.

Stewart, trainer of Oaks winner Lemons Forever, grinned when asked whether Floral Park was his Oaks filly for 2007.

"I'm not going to touch that one," he said. "Not even close."

Chicagoan wins Derby super contest

Ron Rodriguez, one of two online handicappers to select the winning superfecta in the Kentucky Derby Super Challenge, has been awarded the $10,000 first prize in a contest that attracted 125,212 entries to the Churchill Downs Inc. website.

In order, Rodriguez picked Barbaro, Bluegrass Cat, Steppenwolfer, and Brother Derek. Jazil dead-heated with Brother Derek for fourth. The other perfect entry also had Brother Derek fourth, but Rodriguez's tie-breaking horse, seventh-place Sweetnorthernsaint, finished higher than the other contestant's tie-breaking selection.

Rodriguez, 70, lives in Chicago. He said he did not bet the superfecta at a wagering outlet. A winning $1 superfecta on the combination that had Brother Derek fourth returned $29,919.

Rodriguez told a Churchill official: "Next time, I'll place it at the track, too."