10/29/2002 1:00AM

Ghoulish grays on Halloween


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Months or maybe years from Thursday, not many Churchill Downs fans will remember much about the feature race of Oct. 31, 2002.

But they might very well remember the Gray Ghost, a starter allowance race restricted to gray and roan horses.

"The reason we [offered] it is that everywhere I've ever worked, this kind of race always seems to make tons of print media and the nightly news," said Churchill racing secretary Doug Bredar.

"Any kind of novelty that we can use to promote the sport, that gets a person who normally doesn't pay much attention to racing to sit up and take notice, I think it's good for the game."

Races restricted to grays have been held at various other tracks, including Hollywood Park, where it was called The Grey Cup, and at The Meadowlands, where the race also was run on Halloween and called the Gray Ghost.

Churchill's version of the Gray Ghost carries a $20,000 purse and will be run as a one-turn mile as the fourth race. It attracted a field of seven gray or roans, several of whom are from other circuits. Steel Petal should be a solid favorite under Pat Day.

The nominal Thursday feature, however, is another one-mile race that drew a field of nine fillies and mares under a three-other-than allowance condition.

Desert Gold, an impressive recent winner at Keeneland, figures as the wagering public's choice under Day. The feature carries a $48,400 purse as the eighth of nine races.

Posse set for return

Posse, the precocious colt who easily won the Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes in May after finishing third as the odds-on favorite in the Three Chimneys Juvenile on the Kentucky Derby undercard, is scheduled to return to action here Sunday as one of the contenders in the $100,000 Iroquois Stakes.

Posse, trained by Steve Asmussen, tuned up for the one-mile Iroquois by breezing an easy five furlongs in 1:03.60 here on Tuesday. Unraced since late July, he is expected to face Private Gold, Tito's Beau, and maybe four or five others in the Grade 3 Iroquois.

The Iroquois is the second of two juvenile stakes to be run here this weekend. The $100,000, one-mile Pocahontas will be run on Saturday.

The races serve as key preps for a pair of Grade 2, $200,000 stakes that close out the fall meet Nov. 30: the Pocahontas for the Golden Rod, and the Iroquois for the Kentucky Jockey Club.

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