11/17/2009 12:00AM

Excelente going back to the grass


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Call it a brief lull. Between the excitement of a pick six jackpot that ballooned this past weekend and the usual flurry of action that awaits at the end of the meet, a few regular racedays appear in store for Churchill Downs fans.

One can look no further than what serves as the Wednesday feature: A $48,000 first-level allowance that drew nine fillies anchors a 10-race card otherwise replete with claiming events. Carded as the seventh race, it's a turf sprint in which Excelente, an Irish-bred filly trained by Darrin Miller, will try to assert her class by rallying off the plentiful speed that opposes her.

Owned by the Silverton Hill Farm, Excelente exits back-to-back disappointments on synthetics but now returns to turf, a surface over which she has been fairly competitive versus stakes fillies. Fourth in the Edgewood in her Stateside debut after being sent here from her home country, Excelente then ran three more times in turf stakes, highlighted by a sharp runner-up try in the American 1,000 Guineas at Arlington Park.

Miguel Mena has the call on Excelente, who will break from post 1 in the five-furlong race. Her main opposition figures to come from Collar, Sweet Gladys, or a Chicago shipper, Allaboutimage.

The Wednesday feature starts a decent-looking late pick four (50-cent minimum) that unfolds with a starter allowance sprint (race 8), a $50,000 claiming sprint (race 9), and a maiden special turf mile (race 10). First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

Wednesday could have been a day of great anticipation for pick six players, but a string of logical winners here Sunday finally emptied a pool that had been gradually building since the fall meet opened Nov. 1. A carryover of $164,755 resulted when an apparent lone winning ticket was nullified by a disqualification in the final race Saturday. The bet drew an additional $397,816 Sunday, only to be split up into parcels of $8,674 following wins by horses sent away at odds of 3-1, 3-1, 4-1, 3-5, 9-5, and 3-1.

This dearth of headlining events at Churchill is only temporary. Five graded stakes will be run here next week: the Falls City on Nov. 26, the Clark and River City on Nov. 27, and the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod on closing day, Nov. 28.