06/08/2003 11:00PM

'Dan' gives Mike happy memory


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It's small consolation to Mike Pegram, but precisely five years after he incurred one of the most brutal beats in racing history, one of Pegram's horses scored a noteworthy victory Sunday at Churchill Downs.

Danthebluegrassman, making his first start in over seven months, easily won the sixth race, drawing off by 5 3/4 lengths under Cornelio Velasquez. The fourth-level, seven-furlong allowance race came five years after Real Quiet, owned by Pegram, lost his bid for the Triple Crown in excruciating fashion. Real Quiet lost the Belmont Stakes - and the $5 million bonus that would have come with it - by a nose to Victory Gallop on June 8, 1998.

Danthebluegrassman, by Pioneering, was the colt who stirred controversy when he was entered, then scratched, from the 2002 Kentucky Derby, precluding another horse from running in the race. In his first start after that, Danthebluegrassman won the June 15 Northern Dancer Handicap at Churchill, signaling a readiness to become a player in the 3-year-old division.

But then the colt slumped badly, beaten by a combined 72 lengths in his four races following the Northern Dancer. After a 25-length loss in the Oct. 27 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill, Danthebluegrassman underwent throat surgery and took plenty of time off. Trainer Bob Baffert brought him back into training at Santa Anita before shipping him to Churchill last week.

"I really think it was the vacation that did him right, more than anything," said Baffert's Churchill assistant, John Good. "The rest really changed him."

Besides the win by Danthebluegrassman, Belmont weekend was an overall good one for Pegram: He also won races at Hollywood Park with Crescendo on Friday and Dealinwithinsanity on Saturday.

Big winner Saint Liam nears stakes try

Following a 9 1/4-length romp by Saint Liam in a first-level allowance here Sunday, trainer Tony Reinstedler said he is tempted to run the 3-year-old colt in stakes company soon.

"Am I ready to try a stakes with him? Yes, the timing's right," said Reinstedler. "But I might just have to try him at the next allowance level against older horses. But this is a good horse. He's got a great mental capacity and a great engine. It's a matter of holding him together and keeping him sound."

In his previous start, Saint Liam, a Saint Ballado colt owned by William Warren, finished second to Wild and Wicked, who is headed to the June 21 Ohio Derby as one of the probable favorites.

Reinstedler said he would "think about" the Ohio Derby for Saint Liam.

Stakes horses in Wednesday allowance

Several interesting allowance races are carded here for Wednesday, led by the ninth, a $58,900 five-furlong turf race for older horses. The field includes stakes-proven horses such as Elite Mercedes, Aly's Alley, and Mighty Beau, as well as Are You Down, who last month lowered the Churchill course record for the distance.

Also carded Wednesday are a $57,600 turf allowance for fillies and mares (race 3), and a $43,500 route for entry-level 3-year-old fillies (race 8).

The pick six carryover is $6,530. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

Butler suffers separated shoulder

Jockey Dean Butler suffered a separated shoulder, a jammed thumb, and a couple of lesser injuries in a training accident at Churchill early Monday.

Butler was breezing a 2-year-old filly, Miss Misfit, for trainer Merrill Scherer when another horse suddenly froze near the rail. The two horses collided, and Butler fell hard to the ground and was momentarily knocked unconscious. Neither horse nor the other rider was seriously injured.

It was the second mishap for Butler in less than 72 hours. Friday, Butler suffered a bruised kidney after being thrown behind the gate before the fifth race.

Butler's agent, Clarence McGary, said he expected the jockey to be out several weeks. Butler has won with 12 of 89 mounts at the meet.

Bobbleheads bring 'em in

Attendance here Sunday was 15,665, many in the crowd lured by the giveway of Seattle Slew bobbleheads. Churchill reported that the 7,500 vouchers for the bobbleheads were gone in 42 minutes.

The third and final giveaway of Triple Crown-winning bobbleheads is scheduled for June 21, when Secretariat dolls will be distributed. Affirmed bobbleheads were given out May 31, when vouchers were given out in 50 minutes.

Matt Winn's grandson dies at 81

Dr. Matt Winn Williamson, a grandson of Col. Matt Winn, died Friday in his hometown of Montezuma, Ga. He was 81.

Dr. Williamson was one of two grandsons of Col. Winn, the man who is widely credited for building the Kentucky Derby into the spectacle it has become. Louis Herrmann Jr., a Louisville resident and a director emeritus of the Churchill board of directors, is Col. Winn's other grandson.

Dr. Williamson, a World War II veteran, was a former director at Churchill and was instrumental in the development of Latonia (now Turfway Park) in northern Kentucky.

* Trainer Pat Byrne, who watched the Belmont on television in Louisville, said he thought the booing of Empire Maker and his connections following the race was undeserved. But after further thought, Byrne said: "I'd like to get booed like that."