10/11/2001 11:00PM

Connected runs big when he feels at home


LEXINGTON, Ky. ? After watching Connected's first 19 races, trainer David Carroll believed the gelding was a poor shipper.

So several days before Connected drove to victory Friday in the $80,425 Warfield Stakes at Keeneland, Carroll had him moved from his Churchill Downs home base to Keeneland to acclimate.

The strategy worked, as Connected, the third choice in a field of six older horses, soared past favored Neon Shadow to win the Warfield by three-quarters of a length. The victory was the third in as many tries on an off track for Connected, a 4-year-old owned by Helen Alexander and Helen Groves. He returned $9.80 to win under Larry Melancon.

"We've always had a lot of faith in this horse, but he's let us down on occasion," Carroll said. "He didn't turn a hair here at Keeneland, so obviously it worked out for us."

Storm Day finished third, another 7 1/4 lengths back. Then came Glacial, Bare Outline, and Double Affair. First Lieutenant and Northcote Road were scratched.

Pat Day, who rode Neon Shadow, rode four winners earlier on the card, including Good Game ($3) in the seventh race. Good Game was awarded victory after being impeded in deep stretch by first-place finisher Tell It, ridden by Calvin Borel.

The Friday card, sixth of 17 at the fall meet, was the first conducted on an off track.

Attendance was 11,595.

Hero's Tribute gets a vacation

Hero's Tribute, who finished fourth as the odds-on favorite Thursday in the Perryville Stakes, is headed for a freshening, said trainer John T. Ward Jr.

"The next time he runs will be at Gulfstream this winter," said Ward. "We're going to retool him over the next 60 days. He came out of the race with a little lung infection, and his left front foot is a little tender. We want to get him ready for a big 4-year-old campaign."

Until finishing well beaten in his last four starts, Hero's Tribute had been considered in the top echelon of 3-year-olds this year. His best races were a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby and a victory in the Peter Pan Stakes.

Meanwhile, Dream Run, the 5 1/2-length winner of the Perryville, likely will run next in the Oct. 28 Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs. The 7 1/2-furlong race will mark his first start against older horses.

Playing 'n Gold euthanized

Playing 'n Gold, winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies last month, was euthanized Sunday after becoming ill from an apparent skull fracture.

Trainer Bob Holthus said Playing 'n Gold, owned by Alan Braun and Ken English, apparently hit her head in the starting gate before her last start, the Oct. 5 Alcibiades Stakes, in which the Honour and Glory filly finished eighth of 11.

Holthus, a trainer for nearly 50 years, said the series of events that led to the filly's death were "freakish. I don't know if I've ever had anything like that happen to me."

Playing 'n Gold also was a dead-heat winner of the Ellis Park Debutante in August. She earned just over $150,000.

Green gives way to blue

A deep emerald green is so integral to Keeneland that the local Sherwin-Williams outlet even stocks a shade known as "Keeneland Green." But in one respect, some of that tradition has changed, as some 300 employees in various customer-service departments are wearing navy blue blazers at the fall meet.

"We've received an incredible amount of positive feedback on them," said Howard McKenzie, director of guest services.

The green blazers aren't in mothballs, though. By next spring, employees will alternate weeks with the blue and green on a scheduled basis, said McKenzie.

o The stakes-a-day parade continues here next week with three $75,000 scheduled for Wednesday through Friday: the Indian Summer, Fort Springs, and Bryan Station. Two Grade 3 $100,000 races close the week: the Valley View on Saturday and the Thoroughbred Club of America on Sunday.

o Although full-card simulcasting normally is offered at Churchill Downs only during live race meets, the Louisville track will open one day before its fall meet for the World Thoroughbred Championships and other full-card simulcasts on Oct. 27. The live meet opens Oct. 28. Churchill's Sports Spectrum annex, which normally is the local outlet for simulcasting, will be closed Breeders' Cup Day and through the live meet, which ends Nov. 24.