09/30/2004 12:00AM

Field packed with class


Turfway Park saved one of the best stakes of its fall meet for last.

The Turfway Park Fall Championship, to be run Saturday at the Florence, Ky., track, drew a nine-horse field that appears to exceed its stature as a Grade 3 race with a $100,000 purse. In fact, a handful of horses who might have been competitive Saturday in the $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup were entered here instead.

Crafty Shaw, Alumni Hall, Intelligent Male, Added Edge, and Spanish Empire all bring credentials that suggest they could have taken a shot at Hawthorne, but, much to the delight of Turfway stakes coordinator Randy Wehrman, those accomplished veterans will clash in a two-turn mile in Turfway's ninth of 10 races.

Crafty Shaw, with Craig Perret to ride, might be the one to beat, if only because of his million-dollar bankroll and his 5 for 6 record at Turfway. Away since July 25, when he was well beaten in the Salvatore Mile at Monmouth Park, Crafty Shaw has a couple of sharp recent works to suggest he will be ready to roll.

Alumni Hall was seriously considered for the Hawthorne Gold Cup before trainer Neil Howard decided on Turfway. "We did wrestle with it," said Howard. "There were reasons for going in either race, but we finally decided against running into an outstanding favorite in Perfect Drift [at Hawthorne]."

Intelligent Male will race under new silks after going 4 for 4 for his previous trainer, Wayne Catalano. The Kagele Brothers partnership bought Intelligent Male after his win in an overnight handicap at Arlington Park on Aug. 21, then turned him over to Cole Norman.

Added Edge made a splashy return to action five weeks ago, when he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 107 in winning the Governor's Handicap at Ellis Park. A 4-year-old colt, Added Edge is inconsistent but eminently capable in this spot.

Spanish Empire, with Shane Sellers to ride, is unraced since May 31 but shows a series of strong works at Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen. Spanish Empire won the Louisiana Handicap and Fifth Season earlier this year and would be yet another viable contender Saturday if he can rediscover that good form.

The others in the field are Eagle Time, Ask the Lord, Cappuchino, and Ministers Wild Cat.

The Fall Championship concludes a stakes schedule that was highlighted by the Kentucky Cup series Sept. 18. After the Turfway meet ends Thursday night, a 17-day meet begins at Keeneland the next afternoon.