11/16/2005 1:00AM

Five A.P. Indys in one race


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Picking the winning horse in the featured race Friday at Churchill Downs looks fairly difficult. Picking the winning sire does not.

Amazingly, five of the 11 entrants in the ninth of 10 Friday races were sired by A.P. Indy, the highly decorated 16-year-old who was voted Horse of the Year in 1992. Those colts are Indy Storm, Under Caution, Indy Moon, Scipion, and Patriot Act.

Several of the top contenders in the 1 1/16-mile allowance race are among that quintet, most notably Patriot Act, whose owner-breeder, Will Farish, owns Lane's End Farm, where A.P. Indy stands at stud. At just about this time last year, Patriot Act, trained by Neil Howard, was widely regarded as a legitimate long-range candidate for the spring classics, especially after the colt finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity while still a maiden.

But when was soundly beaten as a 1-5 favorite in a Churchill maiden race, Howard had seen enough. Duly regrouped, and given the time that most sons of A.P. Indy seem to require to perform at peak efficiency, Patriot Act was brought back at his trainer's leisure, with no thought to the Triple Crown.

That show of patience is paying off. Patriot Act ran second in his August comeback at Saratoga, then got through his maiden condition on Sept. 14 at Belmont Park. Then, after faring respectably in a Belmont allowance, he knocked out his first allowance condition in style last month at Keeneland.

If that steady progress continues, Patriot Act shouldn't take very long to get through the second-level condition that governs the Friday feature, which carries a $54,900 purse. If not, then one of the other A.P. Indy offspring appears capable of getting the job done, most likely Indy Storm or Scipion.

, trained by Nick Zito, was good enough to finish fourth in the Belmont Stakes in June. Scipion, trained by Patrick Biancone, won the Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February before his campaign toward the classics fizzled.

Of the non-A.P. Indys in the feature, maybe the strongest possibility is Funk, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt who will be ridden by the meet's leading jockey, Rafael Bejarano. Like several other 3-year-olds in here, had a brief flirtation with glory last year by finishing second in the Laurel Futurity.

The balance of the field is Neuf de Carreau, Commander Pat, Conservationist, Bargainwiththedevil, and Sultan of Spin.