06/24/2007 11:00PM

High Blues needs better luck


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rusty Arnold is proving that you can go home again. After being based in New York for more than 20 years, Arnold, born and raised in Kentucky, returned last fall to his home state, and nearly a year later his stable has been about as productive as it had been in recent seasons in New York.

Arnold will be at Churchill Downs on Wednesday to saddle High Blues, one of the most promising horses in his 54-horse stable, in the featured eighth race, a $52,500 allowance that carries a second-level allowance condition. High Blues has raced twice since being turned over to Arnold by his owner, the Dixiana Stables of Bill Shively, following a layoff that dates to last August - and in both races, he was narrowly beaten when he was "pretty unlucky," noted Arnold.

In his comeback race on April 21 at Keeneland, High Blues was left flat-footed at the break, spotting the field daylight, but still managed to finish third in a three-way photo. In his last race, on May 18 at Churchill, the 4-year-old colt "got in some traffic and finally came running late," said Arnold.

Arnold said he took note of High Blues in the winter of 2006 in Florida, when the colt, then 3 and trained by David Paulus, ran respectably against the likes of Corinthian and Sunriver in allowance races before eventually finishing sixth, beaten 10 lengths, behind Barbaro in the Florida Derby.

"I kind of lost track of him, but eventually Bill Shively asked me to take the horse, which was a fortunate break," said Arnold.

Arnold, 52, began training at Keeneland at age 20. He moved full-time to New York in 1985, with his best year coming in 1999, when the stable earned more than $2.7 million. But beginning in 2004, business began to slow, and with stable earnings the last three years averaging just over $1.1 million, he ultimately decided he would be better off moving back to Kentucky, where he now has 40 horses at Keeneland and 14 at Churchill. Into Wednesday, earnings for this year are $630,071.

"It's tough to say right now whether or not it's been the best move for me, but I'm happy, and things actually are going pretty good," he said.

One of six older horses in the 1 1/16-mile feature, High Blues will be ridden by Julien Leparoux and break from the outside post. The rest of the field is Canela, Passport, Red Raymond, Itsallboutthechase, and Save Big Money.