09/08/2005 12:00AM

Entries rise sharply


FLORENCE, Ky. - About a dozen Louisville-based trainers who did not participate in the first three programs of the Turfway Park fall meet have entered runners for Saturday, helping to produce easily the fullest fields and most attractive program of the meet thus far.

The 10-race Saturday card drew 96 entries, or 50 percent more than the 64 entries averaged during the first three programs of a 22-day meet that began Wednesday. The most obvious example of the sudden upsurge came with the Saturday feature, the $75,000 Weekend Delight Stakes, a filly and mare race that drew 12 entries.

While horsemen and veterinarians held further discussions Thursday with officials of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority concerning proposed revisions of language to the new equine medication rules that have caused a rift between the two factions, there appears to be some softening in the original stance assumed by trainers who initially declined to enter horses at Turfway. While several prominent Churchill Downs-based trainers, including Steve Flint and Tom Amoss, entered horses on the Thursday and Friday cards, a new group of trainers saw fit to enter for Saturday, including Bob Holthus, Carl Nafzger, Randy Morse, and Eddie Kenneally.

Flint was one of about 80 trainers who attended a two-hour meeting Wednesday at Churchill, where horsemen and veterinarians questioned KHRA executive director Jim Gallagher about numerous aspects of the new rules that went into effect Wednesday. Although the tone of the meeting was often contentious, some trainers left with the feeling that they could trust what Gallagher told them when he said: "Keep treating your horses as you have been, and you will be fine, I assure you."

"I believed what he said," said Flint, who trains primarily for the Klein family of Louisville. "It's like I told the Kleins, 'If I thought there was a chance of me losing my license, I wouldn't run.' "

Gallagher told the horsemen Wednesday that he would join them in exploring different ways to revise the language of the new rules. Before the rules become permanent, they must pass through normal legal channels, and it is during that process that horsemen and veterinarians are hoping to make significant headway.

Meanwhile, the trainers of several major stables remain conspicuous by their absence, including Bernie Flint, Steve Asmussen, and Dale Romans.

Bernie Flint said his horses "have been through two tough meets" at Churchill and Ellis Park and he had no entries through Saturday. Asmussen said he usually doesn't run much at the Turfway fall meet and that most of his string that recently campaigned at Ellis has been sent to Evangeline Downs.

Asmussen said he intends to run two horses next Saturday in the Kentucky Cup series at Turfway: Cab in the $100,000 Juvenile, and Lunarpal in the $100,000 Sprint. But otherwise, he said he intends to remain quiet, primarily because he felt the questions he raised at the meeting Wednesday still have not been adequately addressed.