05/20/2004 11:00PM

Gretchen's Star a real good old boy


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Senior golfers have the opportunity to compete in events restricted to older players. Horses of advanced age have no such luxury. Not that Gretchen's Star needs such an advantage - at age 9, he acts as good as ever.

He will need to be at his best Sunday when he faces five stakes-quality rivals in the ninth race, a $68,000 allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

A winner of 7 of 22 starts and over $313,000, he excels over the Churchill Downs turf, having won 4 of 9 races over it. He is far from a one-track wonder, however. Last fall he won an allowance at Keeneland, a race after finishing a close second to Hard Buck in the Kentucky Cup Mile at Kentucky Downs. Hard Buck became a Grade 1 winner this year.

This year, has started once, finishing a close fourth behind Senor Swinger in a money allowance at Churchill Downs on April 29.

"I knew he was short," said owner-trainer Ron Isbell. "I didn't want to work him too much on dirt. So I was tickled by the way he ran."

Now "dead fit," according to Isbell, Gretchen's Star should be ready for a peak effort.

, seventh in the Woodford Reverse Turf Classic for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, may not have cared for a yielding course in that race. A deluge preceded the Woodford Reserve on Derby Day, resulting in flooding conditions in the infield and making the turf course extraordinarily wet.

Aside from his race in the Woodford Reserve, his other races this year resulted in competitive efforts. He won an allowance at Gulfstream and Keeneland and also managed a pair of thirds in challenging races over the winter. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for his April 15 victory.

Although Devil Time, Colonial Colony, and Hero's Tribute have won on grass, they have earned the majority of their earnings in main-track races. That would seemingly put them at a disadvantage.

Devil Time finished sixth behind Congrats in the Alysheba Stakes in his last race April 30. Colonial Colony comes off a runner-up finish behind Ten Most Wanted in the National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne on April 17. And graded stakes winner Hero's Tribute was most recently eighth when he was matched against Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando on turf at Keeneland.

Great Bloom completes the field.