05/11/2008 11:00PM

Entry-level allowances draw tough fields

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the back-to-back allowances that put an end to the Wednesday card at Churchill Downs is the money up for grabs. A 20 percent purse decrease means the races are worth just $43,100 apiece, an unsettling figure for a track that perennially has been among the national leaders in purse structure in recent times.

Talk of purse cuts was more prevalent Monday morning on the Churchill backstretch than, say, what Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown was up to, but those are topics for another time; a horsemen's meeting was scheduled for Tuesday night, while Big Brown was scheduled to leave here Wednesday to run Saturday in the Preakness in Baltimore. Of more immediate concern to Churchill horseplayers is what might transpire during the nine-race Wednesday program.

The eighth, an entry-level race restricted to 3-year-olds and scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf, appears to boil down to three primary contenders: Blue Lion and Go West Bert, both of whom exit a tough Keeneland allowance on April 20, and Doctor Cal, a Bill Mott-trained colt with the distinction of having finished second - albeit a very distant second - to Big Brown in the now-famous maiden race last Sept. 3 on the Saratoga turf, where the eventual Derby winner was unveiled as a potential superstar.

In the April 20 race at Keeneland, Go West Bert came flying late to be second to Prime Realestate at 18-1, while Blue Lion was 3-1 and finished a respectable fifth, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths by the winner.

Eight other challengers, including one also-eligible, are entered in the eighth race.

The Wednesday nightcap also carries an entry-level restriction while open to 3-year-olds and upward at seven furlongs on the main track. Tom Amoss, who through last weekend had saddled a meet-high eight winners, including Indian Chant in the Sunday feature, will be sending out another live one in Mutadda, a 4-year-old colt who just missed for this same condition on the second day of the spring meet, April 27.

Other contenders include Tenkiller Lake, who has been beaten a nose in each of his last two starts at this level; Tale Z, a Steve Asmussen-trained colt with two sharp races in as many starts; and Locomotion, perhaps the top upset threat given smooth sailing from his outside post.

There is no carryover jackpot in the Super High Five, which is offered on the last race.