06/09/2005 11:00PM

Eurosilver primed for Foster

Eurosilver, a Grade 1 winner at 2, will try to prove he's among the top older handicap horses in the Stephen Foster Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Saturday would mark a very opportune time for Eurosilver to step up and maximize his considerable potential. As one of at least eight horses expected for the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs next Saturday, Eurosilver will be trying to leapfrog into the upper echelon of the handicap division.

"He's got the attributes to do it," said Ian Wilkes, assistant to Eurosilver's trainer, Carl Nafzger. "Now he just needs to step up and do it."

Eurosilver had what Wilkes called a "great" five-furlong breeze here Thursday morning preparing for the $750,000 Foster Handicap, the 1 1/8-mile race that has evolved into the annual highlight of the post-Kentucky Derby segment of the Churchill spring meet. Wilkes's wife, Tracey, was aboard for the drill, which was completed in 59.20 seconds.

Eurosilver, now 4, has been considered a potential top horse since winning the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in the fall of his 2-year-old season. But an illness, followed by several disappointing races, have relegated him to a secondary position behind more accomplished horses in the handicap ranks.

Several of those highly regarded horses will be here for the Foster. Besides Eurosilver, the lineup also is expected to include Badge of Silver, Saint Liam, Perfect Drift, Second of June, Pollard's Vision, Colonial Colony, and M B Sea.

Wilkes said he believes Thursday's work shows Eurosilver is primed for a big effort and that he expects the colt to be "more focused" than he was when he finished fifth in his last start, the Pimlico Special on May 20.

The Foster will be one of five races televised by ESPN on the new Emirates Airline Super Saturday series. The two-hour broadcast starts at 5 p.m. Eastern and also will include the Fleur de Lis from Churchill.

Romero able to exercise horses

They don't come any more resilient than Randy Romero. A former jockey, the 47-year-old Romero is back riding horses, albeit as an exercise rider, and in spite of a litany of physical woes that surely would dispirit a less determined soul.

Romero recently began exercising horses for trainer Dallas Stewart, who years ago worked as Romero's valet. Romero said he walked hots for Stewart for about a month before deciding he wanted to ride again. Friday at Churchill, Romero breezed three horses and galloped another.

Romero has been ailing for several years with kidney and liver disease. He still undergoes four-hour dialysis treatments three times a week.

"I started going to the gym in January to get fit again," said Romero. "I couldn't just keep staying in the house. I want to be outside, doing what I love to do. I love to get on horses."

Romero, who rode 4,285 winners, said he hopes to accompany the Stewart stable to the Saratoga meet that begins July 27.

Nearly a four-way dead heat

The finish of the eighth race Thursday was so close and so frantic that even Churchill announcer Luke Kruytbosch gave off an audible chuckle as four horses hit the wire together.

"I don't remember ever having four finish that close together," said Kruytbosch, an 18-year veteran race-caller.

Mon Cabo was first by a nose over Modern Marvel, who beat Mark of Perfection by a nose for second, who beat Speed of Funny by a nose for third.

Asmussen eager for test results

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Friday that state veterinary officials informed him that blood test results for his horses in Barn 38 at Churchill were scheduled to be completed by Saturday morning. The Asmussen horses have been under quarantine for the equine herpes virus since May 17.

Asmussen had two horses entered Friday. Storm Jazz was allowed to run in the fifth race because she is based at Keeneland, but My Extolled Honor, the program favorite in the 10th, was forced to scratch because he is stabled in Barn 38.

Horses in two other Churchill barns cleared quarantine last weekend after all tested negative for the virus. The Asmussen horses have been further detained because four tested positive in a round of tests taken around June 1. Those four since have been segregated from the 32 horses who remain in Barn 38.

* Churchill has announced that prerace testing for alkalizing agents will resume, effective immediately, albeit on a random basis. Before the May 17 quarantine went into effect, all horses were subject to those tests on race day. Churchill has said it will resume race-day tests for all horses when all quarantine restrictions have been lifted.

* Jockey Mark Guidry was absolved of wrongdoing Friday when he met with the Churchill stewards to review videotape of his ride aboard Goodoldsouthernboy in the third race Wednesday.