12/11/2008 12:00AM

Extreme Supreme hitting stride as he nears 6


It won't be long that Extreme Supreme will turn 6, which under different circumstances might have had owner John Oxley and his longtime trainer, John T. Ward Jr., thinking about retiring the horse.

But considering that Extreme Supreme still might have his best races ahead of him, and the fact the Thoroughbred breeding market is not exactly thriving, a 6-year-old campaign is in store.

"He's just now getting good," said Ward, "and everything being what it is, there's no real reason to retire one that's getting good right now."

That's potential bad news for the nine other horses entered Saturday in the $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. Extreme Supreme looks like a deserving favorite in the 1 1/8-mile race despite not having raced in 11 weeks.

"We had thought about maybe running him in the Fayette at Keeneland and then the Clark at Churchill Downs, but we decided to just maybe back off a little bit and look ahead to this race at Turfway and then on to Florida," said Ward.

Extreme Supreme, with Otto Thorwarth to ride, will break from post 7 in the Prairie Bayou, the 11th of 12 Saturday races. In his 15th and most recent start, Extreme Supreme was second to Zanjero in the Sept. 27 Kentucky Cup Classic over the Polytrack surface at Turfway. In the meantime, he has trained steadily over the Polytrack at Keeneland.

"He ran so well over the Poly there at Turfway that we thought this would be a good spot before we head off with everything to Gulfstream Park," said Ward.

If Extreme Supreme is unable to live up to favoritism, a handful of his rivals appear quite capable of filling that void, most notably Canela. A versatile and gritty performer with 15 career wins, Canela came alive at the recently ended Churchill fall meet, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 two starts back.

Other worthy challengers include Gin and Sin, an earner of more than $530,000, and Woodbine shipper Omaggio, who has Emma-Jayne Wilson named to ride. Longer-priced possibilities include Timeless Fashion, Matty's Trail, and Barastraight.

The Prairie Bayou, named for the ill-fated winner of the 1993 Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway, dates to 1995. Sidcup won last year for trainer Walter Bindner.

First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.