10/06/2004 11:00PM

Eurosilver to resurface in Perryville

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A one-time top 2004 Kentucky Derby prospect, Eurosilver will make his first start since March, and first for trainer Carl Nafzger, in next Thursday's Perryville.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Eurosilver, who was one of the favorites for the 130th Kentucky Derby before being sidelined with an illness in late March, is set to make his return to action Thursday against fellow 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Perryville Stakes at Keeneland.

Eurosilver will be making his first start for trainer Carl Nafzger, who has overseen the colt's progress since mid-May, when Buckram Oak Farm owner Mahmoud Fustok split with trainer Nick Zito. Eurosilver was a very impressive winner of the Breeders' Futurity here last fall for Zito.

Eurosilver had his final work for the Perryville, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.20 Wednesday at Churchill Downs, where he has maintained a steady training pattern in recent weeks. Eurosilver has been in serious training since July, when veterinarians pronounced him over a mysterious and lingering illness that initially resulted in feverish conditions and a small protrusion atop the colt's head.

"I'm very pleased with how he's come back," said Nafzger. "We thought the Perryville would be a great place to start back with him. It's the right spot."

Javier Castellano, who was the regular rider of Eurosilver for Zito, will retain the mount for Nafzger. "Mr. Fustok likes Javier, and I do, too," said Nafzger.

Castellano has become one of the most sought-after jockeys in recent months in New York, where he is in a three-way battle for second place in the rider standings at Belmont Park.

The Perryville is run at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet. First run in 1999, it has been won the last three years by Dream Run, Najran, and Clock Stopper.

Nominations for the Perryville closed Wednesday.

Bailey set to return Wednesday

Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, sidelined since suffering a hairline fracture of his left wrist Sept. 1, likely will make his return to action Wednesday at Keeneland. Bailey will be named to ride an allowance filly named Shoot for trainer Bobby Frankel in a second-level turf allowance, said Bailey's agent, Ron Anderson.

Anderson said he is "hoping for the best" that Bailey will regain the mount aboard Kitten's Joy, the likely favorite for the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup Turf. Trainer Dale Romans said he and owner Ken Ramsey probably would announce their decision this weekend on whether Bailey or John Velazquez will have the mount. Bailey rode Kitten's Joy in five of the colt's last six races, and Velazquez rode him to his sensational triumph last weekend in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park.

Bailey, a seven-time winner of the Eclipse Award as top jockey, broke his wrist in a fall from a ladder at his home in Davie, Fla. Bailey had been putting up storm windows and was evacuating his family in preparation for Hurricane Frances.

Azeri heavily favored in Spinster

Even with all the high-class runners scheduled to race here Friday and Saturday, the biggest name of the weekend won't be fitted with a racing saddle until Sunday. That's when Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, will start as the heavy favorite in what long has been the signature race of the meet, the Grade 1 Overbrook Spinster.

Azeri, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, is expected to face five or six fillies or mares in the $500,000 Spinster. Pat Day again has the mount.

House of Fortune, with Gary Stevens to ride, looks like the strongest challenger to Azeri. Other probables for the 1 1/8-mile race are Angela's Love, La Reason, Mayo on the Side, One for Rose, and Tamweel.

The Spinster and the Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy will be part of a pick four pool that Keeneland guarantees at $300,000. Pick four guarantees of $300,000 also will be offered on the other two Sunday cards of the meet, Oct. 17 and 24.

The $500,000 Galaxy, a 1 3/16-mile turf race, is coming up with a deep field. Likely favorites include Bedanken, Dimitrova, and Shaconage.

All eyes on Scipion in Futurity

One of the more intriguing starters in the Breeders' Futurity is Scipion, the A.P. Indy colt who amazed racing fans back on Aug. 14, when he roared from last to first in the final furlong to win his career debut at Saratoga.

"Maybe expectations were too high after that," said Patrick Biancone, who trains Scipion for breeder Virginia Kraft Payson. "He is a horse I thought may take three starts to break his maiden. He is a big baby, nowhere near his potential. He is a horse for next year."

Off his Saratoga eye-catcher, Scipion was the favorite at River Downs in the Sept. 6 Cradle Stakes. He tracked front-running Bellamy Road for much of the 1 1/16-mile trip before winding up third behind Bellamy Road and Diamond Isle.

* Keeneland will be crowded Saturday, as it always is for live racing, but maybe moreso late in the day. The University of Kentucky will host Alabama in an NCAA football game at nearby Commonwealth Stadium, starting at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

With Keeneland first post set for 1:15, the flow of football fans to the track may largely be determined by how the game proceeds. Alabama is a 5-point favorite.

* Keeneland and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association once again are giving away 10 college scholarships at this meet. College Day, which typically attracts thousands of students who would not otherwise be in attendance, is set for next Friday.

Keeneland began hosting College Day at the 2002 fall meet.