05/24/2007 12:00AM

Desormeaux gains live mount


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kent Desormeaux had a couple of things fall through on Saturday at his current base, Belmont Park, so the Hall of Fame jockey will be riding instead at Churchill Downs, where his mount in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap looks as good as anything else in a wide-open race.

Twelve older horses are scheduled to negotiate the three turns of the $150,000 Louisville Cap, a 1o1/2-mile turf race carded as the 10th of 11 races. Desormeaux has the call on Drilling for Oil, an improving 4-year-old colt who already has finished respectably in two Grade 3 races this year.

"Kent knows the horse, and it gives me confidence to have somebody on him that knows him," said Ken McPeek, the trainer of Drilling for Oil. "The colt has some idiosyncracies and is a tricky ride, so I was glad to get Kent to come down here."

Desormeaux and McPeek enjoyed a highly productive four-week streak from the beginning of the Keeneland spring meet through Kentucky Derby week at Churchill. They will try to put an exclamation point on that successful period when Drilling for Oil breaks from post 10 in a field that also includes contenders Always First, I Believe in Me, Hotstufanthensome, and Ramazutti.

Always First, the 118-pound highweight, closed stoutly to be second at Keeneland in the Elkhorn Stakes, another turf marathon in which Drilling for Oil was third. I Believe in Me, who figures among the front flight, also beat Drilling for Oil when they met in a Keeneland allowance.

Hotstufanthensome, the leading earner of the group with $621,220, has a steady run that invariably has him in the hunt at race's end. Ramazutti, from the Todd Pletcher stable, was second in this race last year.

The rest of the field for the 80th running of the Louisville Cap is Murch, Transduction Gold, Cloudy's Knight, Louve des Reves, Royal Assault, Fri Guy, and Embossed.

* The Louisville anchors a program that also includes four allowance races. In the fourth race, the McPeek-trained Bold Start will try to undo some of his tough racing luck from recent starts as a solid favorite over five other 3-year-olds, and in the ninth, Brother Bobby, the Oaklawn Handicap runner-up, will try to rebound off a fifth-place finish in the Alysheba Stakes.

* Churchill is giving away poster prints of Street Sense's victory in the May 5 Kentucky Derby to the first 7,500 in attendance.