05/13/2008 11:00PM

Clean break all Closeout needs


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In the May 3 Kentucky Derby, Pyro and Gayego had their chances compromised by troubled starts. Pyro was bumped and shuffled back, and Gayego broke sluggishly and fell farther off the pace than accustomed.

Compared with Closeout's outing in an April 23 turf allowance at Keeneland, their poor early starts were inconsequential. Closeout, bet down to 3-5 favoritism, was eliminated at the break when she was sideswiped by the rival to her outside, May Meeting, and then steadied to avoid fallen jockey Edgar Prado, who was unseated by May Meeting.

Friday, when Closeout returns in a first-level allowance in race 9 at Churchill Downs, a clean break will likely be all she needs to return to the sharp form she flashed in winning her only other start, a March 21 maiden race at Fair Grounds, by 5 3/4 lengths.

Taking into account her early difficulties, Closeout likely ran every bit as well in her allowance at Keeneland as she did in winning her debut. Despite her troubled start and the fact that she grew rank when trying to regain contact with the leaders, she rallied to be sixth, beaten just 2 3/4 lengths.

Finishing just a neck in front of her in fifth was Rich Citizen, the 7-2 second choice on the track's morning line behind 8-5 favorite Closeout in Friday's eight-horse race at 1 1/16 miles on grass.

Julien Leparoux has been given a return riding assignment on Closeout by trainer Tom Proctor, who trains the 3-year-old Repriced filly for Glen Hill Farm.

Besides Closeout, Proctor thinks highly of Star Trader, an uncoupled stablemate he entered for Vegso Racing Stables. Although unraced on turf, Star Trader, a daughter of Exchange Rate, strikes Proctor as a grass filly, and she impressed him with her maiden win at Tampa Bay Downs on April 20.

"Her race at Tampa - she ran hard after having trouble at the break, and gutted it out to win," he said.

Following thunderstorms Wednesday and more rain forecast for Thursday, there is a chance the race will be taken off the turf. If that happens, Closeout would likely be scratched, Proctor said. Star Trader would run on turf or dirt, he said.

* Friday's 11-race card also includes a second-level allowance at seven furlongs, race 10, which drew the stakes-dropping Day of Victory, the stakes-placed Aspiring, and Tazarine, an April 25 allowance winner at Keeneland.