10/31/2003 12:00AM

Grand Score to race once then rest


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As usual, trainer John T. Ward Jr. is looking a few steps ahead. Even if Grand Score runs well enough Sunday to win the Iroquois Stakes, Ward said he is inclined to put the colt away for the rest of the year.

"The logical next step would be to run back in the Kentucky Jockey Club," he said, meaning the Grade 2 race that ends the Churchill Downs meet on Nov. 29. "But that would mean we'd probably have to take an early race away from him in Florida, and right now I'm leaning toward advising our camp against that. I think we've got a very nice horse here."

Grand Score, by the red-hot sire Grand Slam, has had two starts.

In his Sept. 1 career debut, the colt finished third, beaten 10 1/4 lengths by Eurosilver, who five weeks later won the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and become one of the early favorites for the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

Duly educated in that Saratoga debut, Grand Score earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in his next race, an Oct. 9 maiden race at Keeneland. Although he won that seven-furlong race by only a half-length over Mach Speed, it was another 11 lengths back to the third-place horse.

Ward believes the one-mile Iroquois could provide the proper set of circumstances to finish the year.

"The mile should be very much in his range," said Ward. "This should be a good race to end the year. We've got Pat Day back on him again Sunday, and Pat said he really liked how the colt ran at Keeneland. That means a lot to us, since Pat is such an astute judge of top horses."

Grand Score, a half-brother to the graded stakes winner Keats, was purchased for $900,000 by John Oxley, who owned Monarchos, the colt that Ward trained to win the 2001 Kentucky Derby. Assuming Grand Score runs well Sunday, the goal for next year is obvious for the Oxley-Ward team.

"He'll go to Palm Beach Downs and point for the big races at Gulfstream," said Ward. "We think this is a horse with a future."

Eugene's Third Son earns 107 Beyer

Minutes after Pat Byrne watched Eugene's First Son earn a 107 Beyer Speed Figure in an impressive victory Thursday at Churchill, the trainer already was looking forward to a rematch.

Back on Jan. 26 at Gulfstream, Eugene's First Son was beaten a length by Cajun Beat in an entry-level allowance race. "Pretty salty one-other-than, wouldn't you say?" asked Byrne.

Indeed it was. Cajun Beat won the Breeders' Cup Sprint last weekend and will run next in the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita. Byrne also has the Malibu circled on his calendar, for Eugene's First Son, although the Indian Charlie colt will run once in the interim.

"It could be the De Francis Dash, the Cigar Mile, the Clark Handicap, or a three-other-than allowance," said Byrne. "We have a lot of options. Wherever he runs, he'll be a factor, because I think this is a seriously good racehorse."

Meanwhile, Byrne's top older sprinter, Ethan Man, has been sidelined for several months after aggravating a suspensory injury when finishing 10th in the BC Sprint. Ethan Man, a 4-year-old gelding, was vanned off after the Sprint, although, Byrne said, "That was more about heat prostration than the leg."

Tiger Hunt done for the year

Trainer Elliott Walden has resisted the thought of running Tiger Hunt in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Tiger Hunt, owned by Team Valor, finished a late-running fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last weekend in his fourth career start.

"We've put him away for the year," said Walden. "We'll take him down to Florida and get him ready for the big races at Gulfstream."

After Tiger Hunt won the Cradle Stakes in early September, Team Valor president Barry Irwin said the colt likely would bypass the Breeders' Cup and run in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and KJC Stakes at Churchill. But when the field for the BC Juvenile was depleted by several major defections, the itinerary was changed.

Kuntzweiler rides comeback winner

Jockey Greta Kuntzweiler rode her first winner since returning from a shoulder injury, guiding Christmas Table to an upset at 27-1 in the second race here Thursday.

Kuntzweiler, 28, returned to action Oct. 2, eight weeks after she was injured in an Aug. 6 Ellis Park spill in which fellow jockey Remi Gunn suffered partial paralysis. Kuntzweiler was winless at the Keeneland meet in limited rides.

* Racing will be conducted at Churchill the next two Tuesdays because of Election Day (Nov. 4) and Veterans' Day (Nov. 11). Tuesdays will then be dark for the rest of the meet. This is the first time in years that Churchill has not conducted racing every Tuesday at the fall meet.