10/27/2003 12:00AM

Holthus holds pair of Prados


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - For whatever reason, trainer Bob Holthus has had uncannily good fortune with sons and daughters of El Prado.

"I've had maybe five or six stakes winners by him," he said. "Obviously I'm a big fan."

The coming week at Churchill Downs could make Holthus an even bigger fan of El Prado, the 14-year-old Sadler's Wells sire who perennially ranks at or near the top of North American breeding lists. Holthus will saddle Proper Prado in an entry-level turf allowance on Wednesday, and unbeaten Pro Prado as one of the favorites in the Iroquois Stakes on Sunday. Both 2-year-old colts are by El Prado and are owned by Mr. and Mrs. James Winn, who have had horses with Holthus for some 40 years.

Proper Prado, second in the Ellis Park Juvenile and fourth in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, is part of a full field in the sixth race at Churchill, a $46,300 allowance scheduled for a mile on turf. "He's a swayback," said Holthus, referring to a common conformation flaw. "But he's done pretty well so far. I think he'll like the grass."

Pro Prado is the one of the most exciting prospects to walk into the Holthus barn for quite a while. The colt won his career debut in September at Turfway Park, then won an allowance sprint at Keeneland earlier this month.

"The Winns already have turned down quite a few offers for him," said Holthus.

The Wednesday race that drew Proper Prado is one of three allowances on the program. The nominal feature, a $54,900 route for older fillies and mares on the grass, also drew a full field and is carded as the ninth of 10 races.

Two stakes for 2-year-olds are scheduled for the coming weekend: the Pocahontas for fillies on Saturday, and the Iroquois for colts and geldings on Sunday. Both are one-mile races worth $100,000-added.

Court wins feature as family cheers him on

Sunday provided a memorable opener at Churchill for jockey Jon Court. Not only did Court win the featured Ack Ack Handicap aboard Cappuchino, but he also won two allowance races - and did it while several members of his extended family were watching.

Court and his wife, Krystal Lynn, had their first child Oct. 16 - a girl named Aubrey - and their house in Shelbyville, Ky., has been full of visitors and a center of nearly ceaseless activity, said Court.

"There's a lot of excitement and energy going on," he said.

Court also has three older children from a previous marriage.

Tenpins, M B Sea to hold rematch in Clark

Tenpins and his surprise conqueror Saturday at Keeneland, M B Sea, are likely to meet again Nov. 28 in the Clark Handicap at Churchill. M B Sea, easily the longest shot in the race at 34-1, finished a length ahead of Tenpins in the Fayette Stakes, the final race of the Keeneland fall meet. Both horses were close to the pace throughout - a development that was quite predictable for Tenpins, but not for M B Sea, who normally runs from farther off the pace.

"When I saw M B Sea just a length off of them down the backside, I thought there might be some trouble," said Don Winfree, trainer of Tenpins.

The 129th running of the Grade 2 Clark will be the richest ever, with the purse having been boosted from $400,000 to $500,000 this year.

Churchill, Trackside combine attendance figures

Because the nearby Trackside simulcast annex will be open throughout the 27-day fall meet at Churchill, track officials will combine attendance at both facilities for the sake of record-keeping.

Not surprisingly, the combined attendance of 9,884 for the Sunday opener was down 18 percent from the corresponding date last year, and the decrease probably was not attributable to just the inconveniences of the track's massive renovation project. Weather conditions on opening day were rainy and chilly, and while T-shirts were given away at the 2002 fall opener, there were no giveaways Sunday.

All-sources handle on the 10-race Sunday opener was down about 3 percent, from $6.47 million last year to $6.29 million this year.

Meanwhile, combined attendance at the two Churchill properties for the Saturday simulcast of the Breeders' Cup was 6,700, up nearly 14 percent from last year.

At Keeneland, where four live races were run Saturday in conjunction with the BC simulcast, ontrack attendance was 15,980.

* Primarily because of a lack of sufficient space during the renovation project, the weekly handicapping contests at Churchill have been moved to Trackside. The contests are held each Wednesday.

* For the sake of uniformity, all mutuel payoffs at Churchill are now being posted in $2 increments. The track formerly used a mix of $1 and $2 payoffs.

* The Kentucky Racing Commission was scheduled to meet Tuesday morning at Churchill to formally assign racing dates for 2004. There were no requested changes in what has become the traditional racing calendar in the state.