11/04/2003 12:00AM

Candidate visits to rally support

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Racetrack backstretches are not regular hot spots for gubernatorial candidates, certainly not on election day.

But early Tuesday morning Ben Chandler, Democratic candidate to become Kentucky's next governor, was out on the Churchill Downs backside, shaking hands with horsemen and spending time with trainer Nick Zito and Lexington horse owner Tracy Farmer.

Chandler, who in the days nearing Tuesday's election trailed Republican challenger Ernie Fletcher in media polls, has actively campaigned for a constitutional amendment to allow slots at Kentucky racetracks. His presence at Churchill Downs was meant to encourage support among the racing industry.

"He is very much for the horse industry," said Farmer, who acts as chairman of Chandler's finance committee. "He wants to see slots at the tracks."

Fletcher does not support an expansion of gambling in Kentucky, but has said he will not stand in the way of slots at Kentucky tracks if voters approve the measure in a constitutional amendment.

Melancon replaces Albarado

Jockey Larry Melancon will sub for an injured Robby Albarado aboard Awesome Humor in Saturday's Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff. Albarado broke his wrist in a paddock accident at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Awesome Humor, winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway in 2002, has won two of six races this year. A 3-year-old filly, she comes off a victory by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 3 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks.

Earlier in the year, Awesome Humor finished second to Island Fashion in the Delaware Oaks and Alabama, and was also runner-up to Smok'n Frolic in the Turfway Park Breeders' Cup on Kentucky Cup Day.

"She is not as good as she was the previous year," said trainer Elliott Walden of Awesome Humor. "I think ankle surgery compromised her a little. Instead of being the second best filly of last year, she is probably in the top 10 this year."

Awesome Humor worked a sharp half-mile Nov. 1 in preparation for the one-mile Churchill Downs Distaff, a work Churchill clockers timed in 48.80 seconds. Walden said the work actually "shaded 48" seconds. He also said Awesome Humor passed a horse in her breeze, and theorized that the clockers picked up the other horse at the finish.

Awesome Humor will be the starting high weight if trainer Ken McPeek passes the race with Take Charge Lady, as expected. Awesome Humor was assigned 118 pounds by racing secretary Doug Bredar. Yell, the probable favorite under Pat Day, drops seven pounds from the 123 she carried in winning the Grade 3 Raven Run at Keeneland. She is scheduled to carry 116 pounds.

Other probables, with weights: Salzurita, 116; Mayo on the Side, 115; Lakenheath, 114; Lead Story, 114; Born to Dance, 113; and Meteor Miracle, 113.

Plans for Private Horde

Private Horde, ninth in this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, is being considered for the Grade 1 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel on Nov. 15, trainer Joe Cain said Tuesday.

Cain plans to work Private Horde Saturday or Sunday at his farm in southern Kentucky before making a decision. If he opts to skip the De Francis with Private Horde, he will likely give Private Horde a few months off.

"He is going to have to go real well for us to go," Cain said.

Private Horde, winner of the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt this summer at Saratoga, had a rough trip in the Sprint and failed to make an impact.

"He took a pretty good lick in his eye," said Cain, who guessed a dirt clod or whip struck Private Horde in the face. "Then he was squeezed back and had to go six wide."

Lanerie back riding

Jockey Corey Lanerie, who was unseated and trod on by a trailing horse when Sweet Jo Jo broke down in Saturday's Pocahontas Stakes, returned to riding Tuesday after taking Sunday off to heal from a bruised leg. He breezed horses Tuesday morning, and rode Tuesday afternoon feeling no ill effects from the spill.