11/04/2002 1:00AM

Colt with friend in a high place


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After a group of horse racing fanatics pooled their money three years ago to buy an A.P. Indy yearling for $100,000, they did something that a fair number of syndicates do: They named the colt for its sire and one of the new owners.

What is particularly noteworthy about Chairman A.P., however, is that he is named in part for the chairman of the Kentucky Racing Commission. Frank Shoop, a Georgetown, Ky., automobile dealer who was appointed commission chairman in 1999 by Gov. Paul Patton, owns part of Chairman A.P. with Frank Jones Jr., Wayne Carlisle, and Ron McKee. The group is known as Winning Stables.

In the intervening three years, the owners have gone through the typical highs and lows that any owners might experience in racing. Chairman A.P. was an impressive maiden winner at Belmont Park, "but he got hurt in his first breeze afterward," said trainer Dale Romans. "We had to give him about a year off after that."

Since his recovery, Chairman A.P. has "been spotty," said Romans, although a sharp victory in an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs in the spring had the men believing more good things were in store.

Wednesday at Churchill, Chairman A.P. gets another chance to justify that confidence when he breaks from the rail under Pat Day in the eighth-race feature, a $44,600 allowance at six furlongs.

Romans said Chairman A.P. "trains better than he's running, so hopefully this will be one of the times he runs a big one."

Ten other 3-year-olds and upward are entered in the feature, which carries a two -other-than allowance restriction. Perhaps the main challengers to Chairman A.P. are Wild Pro, No Restraint, Twining Dream, and Golden Gus.

Two other allowances (races 6 and 7) also are on the Wednesday card, which opens with what appears to be a competitive maiden special weight route for 2-year-old fillies.

Habibti, Roxelana prep for Distaff

A pair of major contenders for Saturday's Churchill Downs Distaff, Habibti and Roxelana, had serious preps here Sunday. Habibti went five furlongs in 59.80 seconds over a fast track, while Roxelana covered the same ground in a minute flat.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Grade 2 Distaff is the lone stakes this coming weekend. Other probables for the one-mile race include Victory Ride and Trip.

Grammarian whips allowance field

Grammarian, winner of the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park in July, enjoyed a breather from stakes company by thoroughly dominating the seventh race Sunday, a second-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Grammarian, a homebred owned by Pacific Heritage Farm, was making his first start for trainer William "Scott" Brumley since former trainer Kellyn Gorder took a private job with WinStar Farm.

A first for Greg Foley

Although he has worked at Churchill Downs since he started walking hots at age 12 for his father, trainer Dravo Foley, veteran trainer Greg Foley recorded his first win in a Churchill stakes Sunday when Champali prevailed in the Iroquois Stakes.

"I can't describe it," said Foley, 44. "It felt good is all I know."

Foley, whose older sister is trainer Vickie Foley, was the leading trainer at Churchill at the 1991 spring meet and has won numerous stakes at other tracks,mostly in Kentucky.

Foley said he hoped to run Champali back in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on closing day, Nov. 30.

"That would be the next logical spot for him," he said.

* Trainer Eddie Kenneally said Pocahontas Stakes winner Belle of Perintown likely will run back in the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod here Nov. 30, even though the 2-year-old filly already has had six starts during "a tough campaign. It makes sense to give her a shot around two turns here and see how she does," said Kenneally, a former assistant to trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

* The comeback of veteran jockey Shane Sellers is proceeding quite well. Sellers already has won four races, including two Saturday, since returning from more than a year layoff. "I'm not as fit as I want to be, but I'm getting there," said Sellers. "My knee feels good and that's the main thing."

* Apprentice rider John McKee enjoyed one of the best days of his career Sunday when he rode three winners at Churchill: Belle of Liberty ($34.40) in the third, Storm Craft ($4) in the fourth, and Toomuchinformation ($34.40) in the seventh. McKee, the leading rider at the River Downs and Turfway meets earlier this year, trails only Pat Day in wins after seven programs at this meet.

* Veteran jockey John B. Luzzi Jr. is expected to be out about a month after breaking his collarbone following the first race Saturday. Luzzi, 35, went down when Red Dice threw him galloping out.