06/16/2004 12:00AM

Hot team back in three spots


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When he was riding to easily the richest victory of his career, aboard Colonial Colony last Saturday in the $810,750 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, Rafael Bejarano confirmed what many local horsemen already firmly believed about the young jockey.

"Horses really seem to run for him," said trainer Greg Foley, who would know better than almost anyone. "He's got plenty of talent, and he's a great kid, too."

Through Wednesday, Bejarano had ridden 99 times this year for Foley, winning 33 times, the most the Peruvian jockey has won for any trainer. Friday at Churchill, the familiar trainer-jockey team will reunite three more times, including in the lone allowance of the 10-race card, a $47,900 sprint for 2-year-old fillies.

Bejarano, who turns 22 next Wednesday, will ride Sweet Miss El for Foley in the ninth-race feature, which drew a field of six. Sweet Miss El, said Foley, will be using the race as a prep for the July 4 Debutante Stakes. "I think she'll be tough Friday," said Foley.

earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 79 when she won the first and only start of her career, a May 16 maiden special weight race at Churchill. Ridden by Bejarano, Sweet Miss El rallied from just off the pace to post a neck victory over Paragon Queen, who wheeled back last weekend to win.

Sweet Miss El drew the rail in a field that also includes Jules Best, trained by Foley's sister, Vickie, and a winner of her only race. Jules Best drew the outside post and will be ridden again by Craig Perret.

Another logical contender in the Friday feature is , who won on the second day of the spring meet before finishing a well-beaten fourth in the June 3 Fashion Stakes at Belmont. Pat Day will ride Passageway for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The rest of the field is Ring and a Prayer, trained by Steve Asmussen, and a pair of fillies claimed off wins in their last starts, More Than Perfect and Upshot.

Besides Sweet Miss El, the other two Bejarano-Foley horses on Friday also won their last starts and figure extremely well. Slew Rouge, the likely favorite in the first race, steps up into the first "never won three" conditioned claiming race of the meet, while Hoh Hoh Hoh (race 2) is looking to remain unbeaten in two starts, having won her career debut last month against bottom-rung maiden-claiming company.

Twilight first post for the 40th program of the meet is 2:45 p.m. Eastern.