10/12/2005 11:00PM

Cassidy back with new filly

Longshot Photos
On his 52nd birthday Thursday, Pat Day signed autographs and spoke briefly as part of the "A Day to Remember" tribute in his honor.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Jim Cassidy likes having a horse to run in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Why wouldn't he? The only time the trainer ever ran a filly in the Grade 1 race was last year, when Ticker Tape held on to win the $500,000 stakes by a half-length.

"Great to be back," said Cassidy, the New Yorker-turned-Californian who has brought Singhalese to Keeneland as a major contender in the 22nd QEII.

Cassidy is hopeful that Singhalese will make the QEII another euphoric experience. If the English-bred filly runs as she has in recent months, Cassidy might well find himself celebrating another QEII victory late Saturday afternoon.

"She ran big in her last race, but it was just too much," said Cassidy, 60.

That last race was the Sept. 17 Pucker Up at Arlington, in which heavily favored Singhalese, ridden by Mike Smith, made a sustained run to the lead before finishing second.

"Mike came back and said right away that he knew he asked her to do too much too early," said Cassidy. But in their two previous races, both at Del Mar, Smith and Singhalese were very much in sync, using powerful rallies to win. Cassidy is looking for another of those well-timed runs Saturday.

"This is not going to be an easy spot," he said. "All of the horses really look like runners. If our filly runs her race, she ought to be right there."

Day moved by tribute

Good thing for Pat Day that his name is so short. Before the second race Thursday at Keeneland, the line of fans waiting to get Day's autograph was probably a half-furlong long.

"I thank my mother and father every day for that short name," Day said playfully.

The autograph session was part of "A Day to Remember," a full afternoon of activities that served to honor Day's Hall of Fame riding career. The busy schedule culminated with Day being saluted by Keeneland with a video tribute and winner's circle ceremony that had the recently retired jockey in tears.

Accompanied by his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Irene, Day told the crowd during a brief speech: "If I had three lifetimes, I still could never repay the racing industry for what it has done for me and my family."

Day, who celebrated his 52nd birthday Thursday, retired in early August with 8,803 wins, fourth-most in North American racing history. He was the leading jockey in virtually every major riding category at Keeneland.

Bejarano on brink of 1,000

The very day after trainer Neil Howard won the 1,000th race of his career, jockey Rafael Bejarano also was bearing down on his 1,000th, illustrating how much easier it can be for a jockey to rack up victories than a trainer.

Howard, 56, has trained some sensational racehorses, including Summer Squall and Mineshaft, but it took him 26 years to win 1,000 races. Soul Search got Howard to that coveted milestone as an odds-on winner of the seventh race Wednesday.

In stark contrast, Bejarano, 23, has been riding in North America for less than 3 1/2 years, having arrived in May 2002 from his native Peru. After winning with one of eight mounts Thursday, Bejarano's career win total stood at 999. His lone winner came in the fifth race aboard Little Cliff ($12) for trainer Nick Zito.

Albarado on a roll

Robby Albarado missed the first day of the fall meet, Oct. 7, to ride Alumni Hall to a runner-up finish for Howard in the Meadowlands Cup, but he hasn't missed much since then. Albarado rode three straight winners here Wednesday, including Soul Search ($3.40), and looks like the only viable threat to prevent Bejarano from winning a third straight Keeneland riding title.

Albarado's other wins came with Slew Peg ($19.20) in the sixth and Bridal Path ($5.40) in the eighth.

Trend or coincidence?

The second-place horses in the recent big races at River Downs won both the 2-year-old stakes at Keeneland.

She Says It Best, second in the Bassinet at River, won the Grade 2 Alcibiades, while Dawn of War, second in the Cradle, won the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity.

* Honor in War, with David Flores up, worked over the Keeneland turf course Thursday, getting six furlongs in 1:15.80. The 6-year-old Honor in War, away since mid-March, could run next in an allowance race before the meet ends, said co-owner Chris Kurtz. Honor In War is just $8,443 away from hitting the $1 million earnings mark.