10/22/2004 11:00PM

Final preps, from coast to coast

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Final preps, from coast to coast

With the Breeders' Cup just a week away, top contenders in several of the eight championship races put in final prerace workouts Saturday.

Works were registered on four fronts: Kentucky, Texas, New York, and Southern California. More workouts were scheduled for Sunday and Monday, after which the balance of the BC starters not already in Texas will converge on Lone Star Park.

Here is a rundown of the Saturday works:

Lone Star Park

Partly cloudy, 70 degrees

Main track fast, turf soft

Culinary, Juvenile Fillies, five furlongs, 1:01.40: Worked in company with stablemate Delusion, another 2-year-old filly. Culinary started a couple of lengths behind her stablemate and moved past her to be best by a couple of lengths under exercise rider Hillary Pridham.

"Except for one fast work at Keeneland, that's kind of how she is," said trainer Mike Stidham. "It was a little confidence-builder. That's her standard work."

Kitten's Joy, Turf, five furlongs on turf, dogs up, 1:06.60: The turf was extremely soft following drenching rain late Friday. Kitten's Joy worked alone with exercise rider Faustino Orantes, who told trainer Dale Romans that the turf was softest on the far turn.

"The track was wet," Romans said. "He was striding out and he looked good doing it. He galloped out real strong. He handled it fine, but I didn't want to push him."

- Jay Privman

Magistretti, Turf, six furlongs on turf, dogs up, 1:20: Magistretti came out on the main track about a half-hour before the turf was opened for workouts at 10 a.m. He was accompanied by a pony and toured the saddling paddock before getting onto the turf and loosening up well for his drill, which came under Julien Leparoux.

During his work, Magistretti appeared to hop over one of the cones at the top of the stretch that keep horses out in the middle of the course. He quickly recovered. "He can run in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase," joked Patrick Biancone, who trains Magistretti.

"It was a nice steady work today," Biancone said. "It was more to see how he handled the track. The track will not be an excuse. He's ready. He had his last really strong work last week in Kentucky."

Wonder Again, Filly and Mare Turf, five furlongs on turf, dogs up, 1:04.80: Wonder Again was the first worker over the soft turf, and she turned in the fastest time of three workers at the distance. She was ridden by Emmanuel Davy, assistant to trainer Jimmy Toner.

"The purpose of the work was to get some air in her lungs today and get a feel of the track," Davy said. "At the three-sixteenths pole I gave her a little bit of head room to go, and she lengthened and quickened and came out of it in very good shape."

- Mary Rampellini

Belmont Park

Clear, 48 degrees

Main track fast

Play With Fire, Juvenile Fillies, four furlongs, 45.94: Coming out after the renovation break, Play With Fire dragged jockey Pablo Fragoso through a four-furlong workout in 45.94 seconds. Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Welsch caught her in 22.12, 33.32, and had her galloping out in 58. (New York Racing Association clockers gave her an official time of 46.12. Either way, it was the fastest of 51 works at the distance.)

Fragoso never really asked Play With Fire to run, but the work was significantly faster than her connections were looking for.

"She did it real easy - she was pulling me, pulling me to the pole," Fragoso said. "She went nice; she did everything easy. I felt like she went in 47 or 48. She was very happy. She's doing awesome."

Trainer Mark Hennig was in south Florida on Saturday morning, but reports to him were that Play With Fire came out of the work in good order.

"She's been training real well, seems happy," Hennig said. "Obviously, I would have liked to have seen her go a little closer to 47-and-change, but as long as she came out of it well - which she appears to - we're all right. We've got a week to the race, we won't have to do much with her. She hadn't done anything since the last race."

Play With Fire, a daughter of Boundary, won her maiden at first asking at odds of 48-1. She has since run third in the Spinaway and Matron and fourth in the Frizette.

- David Grening

Churchill Downs

Cloudy, 62 degrees

Main track fast

Champali, Sprint, five furlongs, 1:00.80: With regular exercise rider Tammy Fox aboard, Champali broke off at the half-mile pole, then proceeded an extra furlong past the finish line to complete his drill.

"He went very good, really good," said trainer Greg Foley. "He went 11-and-change from the eighth pole to the wire when Tammy was kind of chirping at him and shaking the reins. The colt did it very easy and was just pricking his ears. Tammy came back with two thumbs up, which is good from her. The colt cooled out nice. I just hope we get a good, clean trip in the race, because I think we've got a big shot in there."

Clock Stopper, Sprint, five furlongs, 59.80: With regular rider Joanne McNamara aboard, Clock Stopper was out on the track just after the 8 a.m. harrow break.

"He's ready to rock, bro," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "We're going down there with plenty of gas in our tank."

Shaconage, Filly and Mare Turf, five furlongs, 1:01.20: Although Shaconage is a grass specialist, she had her final pre-BC workout on the main track, as trainer Mitch Shirota tends to prefer. Shaconage figures as a big longshot in the Filly and Mare Turf.

- Marty McGee

Hollywood Park

Clear, 62 degrees

Main track fast

Hollywood Story, Distaff, seven furlongs, 1:23.80: Exercise rider Michelle Jensen was aboard. The time was the fastest of six at the distance, by more than one second. Trainer John Shirreffs was thrilled with the work.

"She worked with another horse and went head-and-head to the quarter pole, then took off," Shirreffs said. "We wanted to make sure she went her first quarter in 24 seconds, and then have her finish from there. The track was kind of funny today. It wasn't as fast at it's been. They added some sand to it. It's a little looser than it's been.

"It was a really good work," he added. "She worked a strong seven furlongs last week, and this was as good, if not better."

- Jay Privman

Sharp Lisa, Juvenile Fillies, five furlongs, 1:03.60: Working alone, Sharp Lisa's exercise was described by trainer Doug O'Neill as "an accelerated gallop."

"I didn't want her to do too much," O'Neill said. "She worked awesome."

Sharp Lisa will be making her third start in the Juvenile Fillies. She won a maiden race at Calder on Sept. 12 and was bought privately by Paul Reddam and Suarez Racing late last month. In her first start for O'Neill, she finished second by a head in the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 8.

"It's amazing how far she's come," O'Neill said.

- Steve Andersen

Keeneland

Cloudy, 60 degrees

Main track fast

Tamweel, Distaff, six furlongs, 1:13.60: With trainer Wayne Catalano up, Tamweel breezed a furlong farther than Catalano had initially planned.

"She was tough this morning," said Catalano. "She went really well. I'm very pleased."

Knowing Tamweel will be a longshot in the Distaff, Catalano said her chances would be much improved if one thing beyond his control were to develop.

"I really hope Azeri runs in the Classic," he said.

- Marty McGee