11/09/2004 12:00AM

Capo lands in sweeter spot


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Being excluded from an oversubscribed race is typically a stroke of bad luck. Weather permitting, it may turn out to be a blessing for .

After being left on the also-eligible list for a turf race on Wednesday, Capo has found an easier spot in Thursday's ninth-race feature at Churchill Downs, a $54,900 allowance going 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Although both races are similar two-other-than allowances, the Thursday race is the weaker of the two. Of its 10 entrants, four have raced for a claiming price of $25,000 in recent months.

The presence of these former claimers makes Capo appear a standout. Last month, racing against a better group in an allowance at Keeneland, he finished third - beaten 6 1/2 lengths, but well ahead of the rest of the pack.

The runner-up that day, Mighty Military, who finished three-quarters of a length in front of Capo, landed in Wednesday's ninth race.

Capo's third-place finish at Keeneland on Oct. 14 was not his only quality effort. He also ran second in an allowance at Ellis Park over the summer and was third behind Kitten's Joy in the Crown Royal American Turf over the Churchill grass earlier in the year.

A larger concern than his opponents may be the weather. The local forecast calls for showers on Thursday, raising the possibility that this race could be moved to a wet main track. Capo has never hit the board in five starts on dirt. John McKee rides for trainer Carl Nafzger.

An off-the-turf shift would benefit Grande's Grandslam, who has raced exclusively on dirt in his 10-race career. He won an allowance over the Churchill Downs main track in June and came back to run third and fourth in a pair of allowance starts this summer at Arlington.

Even if Thursday's race stays on the grass, Grande's Grandslam could be a factor. He worked over the local turf Oct. 28, breezing five furlongs around the cones in 1:04.60. His trainer, David Carroll, has won with five of his last 16 first-time turf runners.

Cowboy Code, Gentlemen's Club, and Leading Off are other contenders who have won at least one allowance race on grass.

Two other turf races on the card could also be affected by showers, including the fourth, a starter allowance that attracted a two-time Maryland Million Ladies winner, Hail Hillary.