10/30/2009 12:00AM

Frankel barn gets a lift with Proviso


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The boss, Bobby Frankel, has been dealing with a serious illness for months, but at his Hollywood Park barn, assistants Humberto Ascanio and Sally Lundy have done their best to keep things moving smoothly. They've got 32 horses here, three of whom are Breeders' Cup runners who worked on Friday, including a new arrival, Proviso, fresh off a strong United States debut.

Proviso crossed the wire first in the on Oct. 11, but was disqualified when ruled to have interfered with the runner-up, Mushka. Disappointing as that was, the race showed that Proviso could handle a synthetic surface. For a horse who raced exclusively on turf in 15 prior starts, she's now getting a crash course in synthetics.

Proviso raced on Polytrack at Keeneland, is training on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park, and will compete on Pro-Ride next Friday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, when she runs in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic. That's a lot to take in for a filly Ascanio says is naturally curious, but on Friday morning, she handled her final Breeders' Cup workout with ease.

Under exercise rider Jose Dominguez, Proviso worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds. She went straight and true, not once looking around nor ducking and diving like she did at Keeneland.

"She came to us right after her last race," Ascanio said Friday morning. "This was her second work for us. She's very nice to be around. She looks around a lot in the barn. She looks at everything. The way she ran the other day, I think she's got a good shot. I think she can improve."

Helping her cause is that Zenyatta, the winner of the Ladies' Classic last year, is scheduled to face males in the Classic on Nov. 7, the day after this year's Ladies' Classic.

"With Zenyatta out of there, anything can happen," Ascanio said.

Proviso is the latest in a long line of horses that Frankel's primary owner, the Juddmonte Farms of Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, has sent to the United States after beginning their careers in Europe.

Ventura, the defending champion in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint, and Visit, who will run in the Filly and Mare Turf for the second straight year, followed the same pattern.

Ventura and Visit also worked on Friday, and Ascanio was anxious. Even though Frankel cannot be at the barn, he is on top of his horses' training, and Ascanio - who has worked with Frankel since 1973 - said he remains as demanding as ever.

When Ventura, the first of the three Juddmonte horses to drill on Friday, went out for her workout, Ascanio cautioned Dominguez, "Don't move on her."

"Please don't get me in trouble," he said.

An hour after all three had worked, Ascanio said all the horses had pulled up well. He smiled and breathed a sign of relief.

"Thank God," he said.

A barn dealing with the heaviness of its boss's serious illness had gotten through the day in just the right way.