11/24/2004 12:00AM

Eurosilver back in big leagues

The Grade 2 Clark will be Eurosilver's second race off a long layoff. An infection knocked the highly regarded colt off the Triple Crown trail.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Eurosilver is moving by leaps and bounds into the Clark Handicap on Friday at Churchill Downs. The colt is jumping into so many new categories that not even his trainer, Carl Nafzger, knows what to expect.

is a 3-year-old who will be facing older rivals for the first time in his career. He is making his second start following a lengthy layoff. He is making his first start around two turns in nearly 14 months. And he is stepping up into Grade 2 company after last competing in an ungraded race.

"We're just going to put him out there and see what he can do," said Nafzger. "He's got a very tough task ahead of him, no doubt about it."

Indeed, running in the Clark will be demanding - but remember, many experts were saying last winter that this colt would win the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately for owner Buckram Oak Farm, Eurosilver was found in late March to have an infection that precluded him from running in the classics. Since then, the colt has been mostly out of sight, having raced just once in the last eight months, when he finished a distant second in the one-turn Perryville Stakes at Keeneland in the fall meet.

The Perryville was the first start for Eurosilver under Nafzger, who assumed control after Buckram owner Mahmoud Fustok parted ways with Nick Zito. Nafzger has proceeded carefully with Eurosilver and is trying to determine just how good the colt is.

"We should get a good idea Friday," said Nafzger. "That was a good race he had at Keeneland, and he hasn't skipped a beat since then. He's a nice, nice colt. We'll just have to see whether he can handle everything we're throwing at him all at once."

Magna Graduate 'sitting on go'

One of the more talked-about 2-year-olds on the Churchill backstretch this fall was Magna Graduate, who will be one of the favorites Saturday in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Former owner Burr Travis sold the Honor Grades colt to Elisabeth Alexander for a reported medium-to-high six-figure sum, and new trainer Pat Byrne believes he has a potential star in his barn.

"He's very professional, very talented," said Byrne. "He gets over the ground so nice."

Magna Graduate was sold shortly after finishing second to Greater Good in the Sept. 18 Kentucky Cup Juvenile. In his lone start for Byrne, the colt led all the way under Pat Day to win an Oct. 22 allowance at Keeneland under wraps.

"He just played with them that day," said Byrne. "He's trained great since then. We're sitting on go for Saturday."

Magna Graduate is one of eight or nine 2-year-olds expected for the Grade 2, $200,000 KJC Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile KJC, which will close out the fall meet Saturday along with the Golden Rod Stakes, lost its favorite earlier in the week when Straight Line came down with a bacterial infection.

No stopping Runway Model

Five months from now, Bernie Flint hopes to still be talking up Runway Model as a major race at Churchill approaches. Flint is eyeing the 131st Kentucky Oaks as the long-range goal for Runway Model, who will start Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod as perhaps the heaviest favorite in any of the "Big Four" stakes that close the meet.

Flint said he was resigned to stopping on Runway Model after she ran a big third behind Sweet Catomine and Balletto in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but "when you try to stop on one and you can't, what does that tell you? It's like grabbing hold of the back of an 18-wheeler. You've got it, but what are you going to do when you got it? You can't just keep her in the barn."

Other probable starters for the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod include In the Gold, Culture Clash, and three or four other fillies.

Martin's suspension delayed

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has granted jockey Eddie Martin Jr. a stay of a five-day suspension recently handed to him by the Churchill stewards. Instead of serving his days this week, Martin's penalty will begin Sunday, when he could have been riding at Fair Grounds, his regular winter base. He will be eligible to begin riding again Dec. 3.

Martin was ordered suspended after his mount Bonanza Jellybean was disqualified from fifth to eighth in the ninth race on Nov. 17.

Ramsey's title streak on the line

Ken Ramsey is trying very hard to come up with enough bullets to extend his record for leading owner at Churchill to 10 straight meets. Into the final four-day stretch, which began Wednesday, Ramsey trailed Overbrook Farm by one winner, 5-4.

Ramsey, who races horses with his wife, Sarah, has won or tied for the last nine owner titles, dating to the 2000 spring meet.

Two lucky breaks for Reed

Trainer Eric Reed sure did beat the odds Wednesday. Reed submitted claims for two horses in the first race, a $15,000 maiden claiming race - and had to win shakes for both.

Reed, on behalf of the partnership of Jerry Brumley and Kay Reed, won a three-way shake for 11th-place finisher Window Woman. He then won a seven-way shake for Tommie Lewis to claim Beacon of Hope, who ran third as the favorite for the Ramseys.

* Rainy weather led to a barrage of scratches here Wednesday as all three turf races were transferred to a sloppy main track. The forecast for Friday, however, called for sunny skies and a high of 52, so a fast track for the Clark appears likely.

First post is 11:30 a.m.