04/24/2002 11:00PM

Coming soon: Starter allowances and optional claimers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Few people have been more eager to get the Churchill Downs spring meet started than Doug Bredar. It has been nearly two months since Bredar was hired to replace the late Jerry Botts as racing secretary, and although that period has been busy for Bredar, the fruits of his labors will not become reality until the first race is run Saturday.

"It's an awesome feeling, having a job like this," said Bredar. "I think we've got a real nice card for opening day. I couldn't be more happy."

Botts, who died unexpectedly Jan. 1, had been racing secretary at Churchill since 1985. Bredar, 40, was selected to fill the job from an impressive roster of applicants.

While the Churchill racing program essentially remains under the supervision of senior vice president Donnie Richardson, Bredar said he already has instituted some subtle changes that will surface after Kentucky Derby week.

"I've written more five-furlong races on the grass," he said. "We'll have more dirt races at 5 1/2 furlongs. There will be starter-allowance races for prices ranging from $8,000 to $20,000. And we'll have optional-claiming races, such as three-other-than allowance horses mixing with $62,500 claimers, and four-other-thans with $80,000 claiming."

Bredar, whose wife Caton Bredar is an anchor for Television Games Network, has been a racing official for nearly 20 years, having gotten his first job as claims clerk at Balmoral Park in Crete, Ill. Since then, Bredar, a native of Des Plaines, Ill., has worked at numerous tracks throughout the country, most recently as assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator at Hollywood Park.

He said he hopes to use what he has learned working for racing secretaries such as Tommy Trotter, Howard Battle, Bob Umphrey, Terry Meyocks, Frank Gabriel Jr., and Martin Panza.

"They all had different positive qualities I hope I can draw from," Bredar said.

Lake Lady out of Oaks

Lake Lady, who futilely chased Take Charge Lady in two stakes this winter at Fair Grounds, was removed from consideration Thursday for next Friday's Kentucky Oaks, said her trainer, Steve Asmussen.

Asmussen was not satisfied with the way Lake Lady emerged from a recent workout, and he also was somber in his assessment of the Oaks field, which is coming up extremely tough.

"That's not a group of horses you want to play around with," Asmussen said. Asmussen said he was particularly impressed with You, the Santa Anita Oaks winner, who had a dazzling workout here earlier this week. "Horses get more tired jogging than she did in that work," Asmussen said.

In addition to You and Take Charge Lady, the Oaks is expected to include the likes of Bella Bellucci, Belterra, Imperial Gesture, and Tempera, the winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Beefeater Baby to skip Distafff

Trainer Bobby Frankel had been planning on running Beefeater Baby in the $100,000 Citgo Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4, but decided to hold her out of the race after an unsatisfactory workout on the turf Thursday morning.

Beefeater Baby, a recent allowance winner at Keeneland, was clocked in 1:19.20 for six furlongs on a soft turf course. She finished well behind a Neil Drysdale-trained duo of Freefourracing and Touch of the Blues, after keeping pace with that pair early. Jockey Mark Guidry, who rode Beefeater Baby in the workout, told Frankel that Beefeater Baby bobbled twice on the soft turf, then, according to Guidry, "shut it down."

Stakes-loaded meet runs to July 7

While opening day begins a week of spectacular racing that ends with the Derby, sometimes it's hard to remember that it also begins a 52-day meet that runs all the way through July 7.

Fifteen stakes will be run here after the Derby, with the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, newly upgraded to Grade 1 status, the highlight of the post-Derby days. The Foster is one of four stakes to be run here June 13.

There are only a couple of minor changes to the stakes schedule. The Edgewood has been moved from the Saturday after the Derby to the Kentucky Oaks undercard, and the newly created Matt Winn, a $100,000 sprint for 3-year-olds, has taken the Edgewood's old slot.

O'Brien bringing a third Irish runner

Besides his two Kentucky Derby candidates, Johannesburg and Castle Gandolfo, trainer Aidan O'Brien also is planning on bringing one other horse from Ireland to run on Derby Day - Bach, who will run in the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

Bach, a 5-year-old Irish-bred owned by Padua Stable and Susan Magnier, has won 5 of 16 starts and more than $560,000. Bach will be making his seasonal debut when pitted against the likes of Hap and Beat Hollow in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve.

The Irish contingent is expected to arrive Tuesday at Keeneland, where they will go into quarantine.

* Mr. Mellon, who exited the Arkansas Derby with a minor foot ailment, breezed an easy five furlongs on the grass Thursday in 1:05.60. "He's fine," said Walden. "I'll be looking for a race for him sometime pretty soon."

* Even after the Kentucky Derby is run, trainer Bob Baffert has been prominent at Churchill in recent years. Baffert said he "might even hang around" again this year. "I've got Danthebluegrassman here, and he's going to run in the Lone Star Derby the next Saturday," he said.

* Bet on Sunshine, gearing up for his 10-year-old debut, breezed six furlongs in 1:14.80 Thursday. Trainer Paul McGee said he expects to run Bet on Sunshine, a $1.4 million earner, in an allowance sprint the week after the Derby.

* Jerry Hissam, longtime agent for jockey Calvin Borel, also will be working at this meet for veteran Joe Johnson.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman