06/11/2001 12:00AM

Captain Steve breezes for first post-Dubai start


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Captain Steve, who will carry high weight of 123 pounds in Saturday's $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, had his final breeze for the Grade 2 race, going five furlongs Monday in 1:01.40.

Captain Steve is expected to face at least eight other horses in the Foster, which will be his first start since his victory in the March 24 Dubai World Cup. The race will be televised nationally on CBS as part of the NTRA Champions series for older horses.

The Monday breeze, which came with exercise rider Pepe Aragon aboard, was "just a nice cruise around there," said trainer Bob Baffert. It has taken Captain Steve a while to recover from the arduous trip to Dubai, and Baffert is hopeful he will be ready to fire Saturday.

After Dubai, "I lost a little time with him," Baffert said. "It knocked him out a little. But I think he's starting to come around now, and this will set him up for the summer. We'll get this race into him."

Jerry Bailey will retain the mount on Captain Steve, a 4-year-old colt owned by Mike Pegram.

Unshaded, assigned 118 pounds on a weights list released Sunday, is expected to be the main threat to Captain Steve in the 1 1/8-mile Foster Cap. Robby Albarado will ride.

Other probables for the race are Graeme Hall, 116, Victor Espinoza; Brahms, 114, Pat Day; Duckhorn, 114, no rider; Pleasant Breeze, 114, Corey Nakatani; Connected, 111, no rider; Da Devil, 111, no rider; and Jadada, 111, Calvin Borel.

Possibles for the race include Chicago Six, 113; Milwaukee Brew, 113; and American Halo, 112.

Graeme Hall, whose only start at Churchill resulted in a last-place finish in the 2000 Kentucky Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:00.74 Sunday at Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Da Devil breezed Monday at Churchill in 59.40 seconds for five furlongs, tied for the fastest work of the day at the distance.

Foster Cap Day has evolved into the highlight of the post-Derby segment of the spring meet. Churchill has reconfigured its stakes schedule so that the Foster is one of four stakes on Saturday. The $1.3 million in stakes purses makes it the second-richest day of racing at the track, exceeded only by Derby Day.

Churchill will offer a pick four wager on the four stakes, as they will be carded consecutively.

In the Saturday co-features:

* $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap: Saudi Poetry, trained by Baffert, and Secret Status are the likely favorites in this Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares. Other probables are Asher, Bordelaise, Dreams Gallore, Maltese Superb, and Royal Fair.

The Fleur de Lis will be part of the CBS telecast.

* $150,000 Regret Stakes: La Vida Loca, winner of the May 12 Edgewood Stakes, figures as the favorite with Bailey riding for trainer Bill Mott. Other expected in the race for 3-year-old fillies are Amaretta, Bold Answer, Casual Feat, Giving Noreen, Kiss the Devil, Mysia Jo, and Smart Timing.

* $100,000 Northern Dancer Handicap: Meetyouathebrig, who has run two monster races at this one-mile distance at Churchill, is the probable favorite in a field of about nine 3-year-olds. Others likely are Compendium, Global Gait, Horrible Evening, Percy Hope, Quadrophonic Sound, Scorpion, Son of Rocket and Wedlock.

Dream Run, who figured as one of the favorites, has been withdrawn from consideration after coming down with a fever last weekend.

* Live racing resumes Wednes-day at Churchill, where the ninth-race feature is a $61,100 turf allowance for older fillies and mares. There is no carryover in the pick six. First post is 3 p.m.