09/03/2005 12:00AM

On Day's advice, Key West Breeze goes long


CINCINNATI - Even in retirement, Pat Day is still impacting the way trainer Pat Byrne conducts his business.

Day, who partnered with Byrne as the regular rider of such top horses as Favorite Trick and Awesome Again, rode Key West Breeze in the colt's first two starts. Byrne said last week that before Day retired last month, he repeatedly told Byrne that Key West Breeze stood an excellent chance to improve with distance.

"Pat said this colt would only get better when he went long," said Byrne.

Monday, when the $200,000 Cradle Stakes is run at River Downs, Key West Breeze has a chance to make Day's prediction come true. As one of the likely favorites in the Cradle, a 1 1/16-mile race, Key West Breeze will be making his first start around two turns. In three previous starts, none at farther than six furlongs, Key West Breeze has been steady, if not spectacular.

"You never know until they do it," said Byrne. "But this colt has shown me all kinds of signs that he should handle the two turns with no problem."

Key West Breeze, a Hennessy colt owned by Charles Lalogia, finished first, then second, in maiden sprints at the Churchill Downs spring meet under Day before finishing second as the odds-on favorite in his last start, the July 23 Colin Stakes at Woodbine in Canada.

Holthus's risk could pay off in Cradle

Veteran trainer Bob Holthus concedes that he acted somewhat out of character when he bought Rocket Beauty, a 2-year-old colt by Cape Canaveral, for $240,000 for longtime client Frank Fletcher at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. sale in March. "That is more than I'm usually willing to spend," said Holthus. "But he's a very good-looking colt, and I made the call that he might just be worth that kind of risk."

Rocket Beauty was an easy winner of an Ellis Park maiden race in his last start and enters the Cradle as one of the logical contenders.

"He had some excuses in a couple of races before that," said Holthus. "Hopefully I won't be making any for him Monday."

John McKee, who started his career at River, will return Monday to ride Rocket Beauty for Holthus.

Medication rules concern horsemen

Kentucky horsemen held a meeting Saturday morning at Churchill to discuss the state's new medication rules that will go into effect Wednesday night, when Turfway Park opens its fall meet. Discussions centered on the consequences of a Friday decision by a Franklin Circuit Court judge who denied a request by the Kentucky division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association to grant an injunction to block the new rules.

Horsemen reiterated their concern over the new rules at the Saturday meeting, and some prominent trainers later said, under the condition they not be named, that they are considering withholding entries from Turfway until they have a better understanding of the new rules. Friday, when asked about a possible boycott of the entry box, HBPA executive director Marty Maline said his organization has "not suggested that, but there have been some comments made by individual horsemen."

Entries were to be drawn Sunday for the Wednesday opener, when the first North American races over the new racing surface Polytrack are scheduled to be run.