04/04/2003 1:00AM

Frostad hopes history repeats at his spring stopover


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Trainer Mark Frostad normally sends out more than his fair share of winners at Fair Grounds every winter. But when 34 starters produced a mere four trips to the winner's circle during this year's four-month meet in New Orleans, Frostad left town with considerably less loot than normal.

Now, en route to his Canadian homeland, Frostad has made his customary stop at Keeneland, where he has 28 horses on the grounds. The Fair Grounds meet "wasn't all that bad," said Frostad, citing 16 seconds and thirds.

"We also saved some allowance conditions, and with the big purses they have here, this is a good place to win those kinds of races."

Frostad, who trains privately for the Canadian powerhouse Sam-Son Farm, has a history of doing well at Keeneland in the spring. At the past three spring meets, his combined statistics are 16 wins from 49 starters (33 percent), and he has won at least four races at each of those meets.

"We've got most of our horses ready to run, so we should have a good number of starters," said Frostad, who has won five stakes at Keeneland. "Obviously whether we do much good will depend a lot on who shows up to run against us."

Frostad, a three-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top trainer, declined to specify which horses might break loose at the meet. "Once you do that, and one runs bad, people start questioning you," he said. "We do have some horses in the lower allowance ranks who might be able to take a step up the ladder."

Half-dozen for Blue Grass

Although Dan Bork, Keeneland's stakes coordinator, said he is optimistic another horse or two will join the fray by the time entries are drawn Thursday, the prospective field for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes remains at six: Badge of Silver, Peace Rules, Offlee Wild, Brancusi, Crowned Dancer, and Lots of Sizzle.

The Blue Grass, the signature race of the meet, will be run Saturday as part of the Big 3 Pick 3, a national wager that combines the two other Kentucky Derby preps that day, the Wood Memorial and Arkansas Derby.

Showdown in Madison

Two Grade 1 winners, You and Forest Secrets, are scheduled to clash here Wednesday in the $100,000 Madison Stakes, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares inaugurated last year.

You, an earner of over $1.4 million for trainer Bobby Frankel, will be trying to end a five-race losing streak in the Madison. Her last start resulted in a runner-up finish behind Starrer in the Feb. 16 Santa Maria at Santa Anita.

Forest Secrets, winner of the Acorn at 3, is unraced since last July for trainer John T. Ward Jr. The last victory for the 5-year-old mare came in the Rampart at Gulfstream in March 2002.

The rest of the probable field is A New Twist, Flaxen Flyer, September Secret, Spelling, and Spring Meadow.

Grade 1 winner Victory Ride won the first running of the Madison last April.

Veteran of racing and war

Almost everyone has a thought or two about the war in Iraq, but there are some people whose opinions seem to carry at least a little more validity than others.

Take Tom Knust, for example. For the last 35-plus years, Knust, who now works as the agent for jockey Kent Desormeaux, has paid a steep personal price for his involvement in war. One day in 1967, when serving as an infantryman in the U.S. Marines in the Vietnam War, Knust was badly wounded by enemy fire. He was paralyzed for six months and still walks with an exaggerated limp. He was later awarded a Purple Heart.

Knust, 55, was born in northern California but grew up in Arcadia, Calif., where he attended high school. After going to work in the late 1970's in the racing offices of Santa Anita and Del Mar, he rose to the position of racing secretary at both tracks. He served 10 years in both jobs before resigning about two years ago.

Romans surfaces

A Friday article in Daily Racing Form carried a lengthy compilation of trainers ready to run horses at Keeneland. Apparently the list was not quite long enough: It omitted Dale Romans, who merely was the leading trainer here the last two fall meets.

"Being left out didn't bother me, but I have had five or six people call me about it," said Romans. "It gave them something to really tease me about."

Romans is coming off a decent meet at Gulfstream Park but said he was unsure whether he has the depth in his stable to win his first Keeneland spring meet.

Turfway lifting quarantine

Quarantine restrictions on Barn 15 at Turfway Park, where three horses infected with equine herpesvirus type-1 (EVH-1) have been stabled, were scheduled to be lifted at 12:01 a.m. Eastern on Saturday, it was announced Friday by the Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture.

Approximately 70 horses have been affected by the quarantine, put into effect March 17. Turfway officials said the three infected horses have responded to treatment and that no other horses have been diagnosed with EVH-1.

Barn 15 horses have been allowed to train separate from the rest of the Turfway horse population since March 27. About six trainers had horses in Barn 15, including Jim Morgan, George Leonard 3rd, and Bob DeSensi.

Turfway ended its winter-spring meet Thursday and will close its stable area April 19.

Plaque honors Webster

Trainers and other visitors returning to the Churchill Downs backstretch this spring may notice something new on the main clocker's stand near the five-furlong pole: a bronze plaque dedicated to the memory of Glenn Webster.

Webster was a strong-and-silent type who served for years as head outrider at Churchill. Nearly two years ago, as the horses were galloping out in the Kentucky Oaks, Webster, 43, had a massive heart attack on the backstretch. He died several days later.

The plaque cites Webster's virtues, among them his lifetime devotion to animals.

- Every morning during the spring meet, even on dark days, a 15-minute radio show emanates from the Keeneland backstretch. Pete Kules is the longtime host of "Live on the Backside," which can be heard on WLXG (1300-AM) at 9:50 a.m. Eastern.