05/01/2008 12:00AM

Einstein still versatile at 6


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Einstein has already shown he is one of the top long-distance turf horses in the country, having won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf at 1 3/8 miles this year and in 2006 when that race was contested at 1 7/16 miles. He also can keep pace with some of the nation's elite milers, as he did in finishing second to Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland on April 11.

Matched against seven rivals - including Out of Control, Golden Balls, Thorn Song, and Artiste Royal - in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, he will seek to prove that his Grade 1 quality extends to an in-between distance of 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Trainer Helen Pitts expects Einstein to improve at the distance. Although he has gone unplaced in the last two runnings of this race, finishing fourth in 2006 and seventh last year, he won the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Handicap in 2007 at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Fair Grounds despite getting carried out by another rival on the backstretch.

Pitts expressed amazement at the versatility of her horse. "Usually horses are either one [type] or another on grass, either a miler, like Kip Deville, or the kind that run all day," she said.

In contrast to past years, the Woodford came up a bit light, with Einstein and 2007 Clement L. Hirsch winner Artiste Royal being the only Grade 1 winners. Not facing horses of the quality of English Channel and Sky Conqueror, the last two winners of the Woodford, Einstein is favored on the morning line at 3-1.

At 6 years old, Einstein, a son of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck, still loves to train and race, Pitts said. His Maker's Mark effort - in which he flashed speed, fell back, and rallied through the stretch to finish a length behind Kip Deville - suggests as much. Robby Albarado rides.

Out of Control, who, like Einstein, is a Brazilian-bred, looms a potential upsetter. Winner of last year's Grade 2 American Handicap at Hollywood Park at 1 1/8 miles, he ran deceptively well in finishing a wide fifth in the Maker's Mark Mile, beaten 3 1/2 lengths.

According to electronic data tracking company Trakus, his wide trip resulted in him racing 62 feet more than victorious Kip Deville and

38 feet more than Einstein, who raced in the two path.

Garrett Gomez rides Out of Control, who is favorably drawn in post 1 and carries 119 pounds, five pounds fewer than co-highweights Einstein and Artiste Royal.