05/15/2003 12:00AM

Foley's focus shifts to Golden Marlin


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Instead of trying to win the Saturday feature at Pimlico - a little race known as the Preakness - trainer Greg Foley will stay home to try to win the Saturday feature at Churchill Downs, the Dogwood Stakes.

Foley had been ambivalent about taking his stable star, Champali, to Baltimore, but all bets were off anyway when Champali came down with colic Tuesday. Now the veteran trainer will focus on the Grade 3, $100,000 Dogwood with Golden Marlin, a hard-trying filly who figures as one of the favorites in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies.

Golden Marlin was scratched from the Edgewood Stakes, a one-mile turf race on the Kentucky Derby undercard, to await the Dogwood, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race. Golden Marlin was sired by the grass champion Marlin, which strongly suggests turf potential, but to this point, the filly is more accomplished on dirt, having finished first - although she was disqualified - in the Bourbonette Stakes two starts back.

"We kind of wish we would've run in the La Troienne" on May 1, said Doug Glass, co-owner of Golden Marlin, "but the timing wasn't quite right."

The likely favorite in the Dogwood is My Trusty Cat, who also recently skipped a major filly race, the May 2 Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Dave Vance was dissatisfied with the way My Trusty Cat was coming up to the Oaks, but he now believes the filly "is as good or better" than when she was in peak form this winter at Oaklawn Park, where she was a five-length winner of the Honeybee Stakes.

Vance said My Trusty Cat has the kind of tactical speed that should serve her well Saturday. "She's very easy to rate," he said.

One other major contender in the Dogwood is Westerly Breeze, winner of the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes last fall. The rest of the field is Double Scoop, Risky Kitten, Throne, and Wildcat Queen.

Sue's Good News was expected to enter, but trainer Steve Hobby said the filly caught a minor illness.

The Dogwood is the highlight of a 10-race Saturday card. Unlike in recent years, Churchill has not integrated the Preakness simulcast into its regular program. Bettors can still play the Preakness through Pimlico's full-card simulcast.

Because of Pimlico's unusually early post time Saturday, patrons at Churchill and some of its simulcast network will not be able to bet Pimlico until the fourth race of its card.