11/12/2003 12:00AM

Forget where Sharbayan hangs his hat

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - For a horse based year-round in Southern California, Sharbayan sure has followed a peculiar schedule this year. The 5-year-old horse has shipped off to races at Midwest tracks on four separate occasions without running once on his home circuit.

Sharbayan is unbeaten in those four Midwest races this year, and he will try to make it five on Sunday at Churchill Downs. Then his schedule will take an abrupt turn. If he runs well as the strong favorite in the $150,000 River City Handicap, Sharbayan will make his next start in the $2 million Hong Kong Vase, a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Sha Tin Race Course on Dec. 14.

Wally Dollase, who trains Sharbayan for Iron County Farms and Miller Trust, said Tuesday that he has made a habit of shipping the horse out of state because the courses generally are softer and tend to favor Sharbayan's late-running style. The concept clearly has worked, as the Irish-bred Sharbayan has earned $157,417 from his four wins.

With Pat Day to ride, Sharbayan is expected to face at least seven other horses in the River City, including Warleigh, Della Francesca, Hard Buck, Gretchen's Star, False Promises, Act of War, and Dr. Kashnikow.

Sharbayan was scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Wednesday, a day after working a half-mile on the Hollywood Park main track in 49.60 seconds under exercise rider Bruno Delgadillo.

One notable defection from the River City is Freefourinternet, upset winner of the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont last month. Freefourinternet, a 5-year-old horse by Tabasco Cat, ran sixth in the Breeders' Cup Mile and then failed to meet his reserve at the recent Fasig-Tipton breeding stock sale in Lexington.

"We just wanted to give him some time, because with all that travel and going over to the sale and so forth, we're just not ready to run yet," said trainer Joan Scott.

Bien Nicole arrives for Cardinal

Bien Nicole, winner of the WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland last month, has taken up residence at the nearby Trackside training center for what will be her last start of the year in the $150,000 Cardinal Handicap on Nov. 22.

Bien Nicole, trained by Donnie Von Hemel, figures as the favorite in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Day on Casual Look

As often happens, Day will be aboard the favorites in both stakes here this weekend. Before riding Sharbayan on Sunday, he is scheduled to ride Casual Look in the Saturday feature, the $150,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes.

Casual Look, a late-running gray trained by Neil Howard, is one of about nine 3-year-old fillies likely for the Mrs. Revere, a Grade 2 race contested at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Other probables are Film Maker, Ocean Drive, Aud, Keiai Sakura, Tiva's Little Six, Dyna Da Wyna, Mymich, and Hoh Buzzard.

Take Charge Lady works

Take Charge Lady, prepping for the Nov. 27 Falls City Handicap, breezed five furlongs Wednesday in 1:00.80 over a sloppy main track. The work was the filly's second since she finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She also breezed 36.60 seconds here on Nov. 5.

Among the probable opponents for Take Charge Lady in the 1 1/8-mile Falls City is Awesome Humor, who will be making her final career start.

Inflated show payoffs

Some unusually high show prices resulted Tuesday after Cat's Glow, the 4-5 favorite under Day, finished fifth in a field of six fillies and mares.

The respective win odds on the top three finishers were only 10-1, 9-2, and 4-1 - and yet their respective $2 show prices were $12.60, $10.20, and $10.40. From a total show pool of $38,244, there was $27,766 bet on Cat's Glow.

Turfway changes scratch policy

Rick Leigh, racing secretary at Turfway Park, said the track has changed its scratch policy to accommodate horseplayers who want program numbers in Daily Racing Form.

Turfway, which begins its four-month winter meet Nov. 30, now will use in its entries as many as 14 horses per race, although only 12 will be allowed to start.

"There will be 12 in the main body and two also-eligibles that can draw in if there are any scratches," said Leigh.

Turfway previously conducted scratch time on the day of the race and did not use an also-eligibles list. Turfway was one of the last tracks not to use program numbers in DRF.

* A heavy overnight rain left the Churchill tracks very wet Wednesday morning, leading to a whopping 28 scratches, including six also-eligibles, before the 10-race program began. Two races scheduled for the grass were moved to a sloppy main track.

* Joe Judice, the leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs last winter, will return there with a new agent this year. Danny Gargan, who has been working as agent for Danny Coa on this circuit, will handle Judice's business starting when Tampa opens Dec. 13.

Coa plans to remain on the Kentucky circuit with Buddy "Payne Street" Fife as his agent.