05/25/2005 12:00AM

Don't read much into Battle Won's turf work


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Chuck Simon apparently doesn't want to let Battle Won know too much.

Last year, Simon molded Battle Won into a successful grass sprinter. But after one grass race in April, Simon abruptly switched Battle Won back to dirt, and the gelding responded with a sensational upset of the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard.

And while Simon, a former longtime assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, intends to run Battle Won next in the June 25 Aristides on the dirt, he put his stable star back on the turf for his first workout since the CD 'Cap. Battle Won responded with a swift half-mile in 47.80 seconds over a firm course Tuesday.

"He likes the grass, and it might be a little easier on him," said Simon. "I'll probably work him on the dirt next, just to keep his interest level up."

Simon "thought about" a race before the six-furlong Aristides, but said, "there's nothing that really fits perfectly." So he is content to wait. He and owner Jay Manoogian have decided to keep Battle Won on the dirt for the time being. "Obviously, he's effective on grass, but the money's not nearly as good as it is on the dirt," Simon said.

Ebony Breeze to inherit favorite's role

Churchill racing secretary Doug Bredar said he is expecting a very small field of fillies and mares for the second running of the $100,000 Winning Colors here Saturday. Nominees for the six-furlong race include Grade 1 winners Lady Tak and My Trusty Cat, as well as Halory Leigh, who runs particularly well at Churchill, but none of those three will be entered.

That leaves Ebony Breeze, who upset Lady Tak in a May 5 allowance prep, as the solid favorite under Mike Smith. Ebony Breeze, trained by Bill Mott, breezed an easy half-mile here Monday in 51.60 seconds.

Fortunately for fans, the field for the $100,000 Louisville Handicap on Monday is expected to be somewhat larger. Rapid Proof, upset winner of the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Memorial at Fair Grounds, could be a slight favorite under Brian Hernandez Jr. in the 1 3/8-mile grass race.

Other probables for the Grade 3 race include Epicentre, Quest Star, Rochester, Senor Swinger, and Silverfoot.

There is no stakes race here Sunday. The Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes for 2-year-olds was run on Memorial Day weekend in past years, but the race no longer exists following a revamping of the spring stakes schedule.

Woodard rearranges entries in try for record

Joe Woodard was supposed to attempt to tie, then break, the Churchill record for most consecutive wins by a trainer by running two horses here Wednesday. Through Sunday, Woodard had saddled seven straight winners, one short of Pat Byrne's 1997 record of eight.

But Woodard scratched both Slider from the second race and Bahama Beau from the fifth race on Wednesday.

He admitted that going for the record "is a once-in-a-lifetime deal" and that he believed Native Bull, who is scheduled to run for his barn in the sixth race on Thursday, had a considerably better chance of winning than his two runners had on Wednesday.

"After this, it's back to business as usual," said Woodard. "But since we're this close, I thought it best to take our very best shot. It's not very often you're in a situation like this."

Besides Native Bull, Woodard also was scheduled to run Quick Blend Thursday, in the seventh race. For Friday, he has one scheduled starter, Prison of Love in the first.