04/28/2003 11:00PM

Indian Express outdoes Kafwain


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Tuesday was the busiest of all Kentucky Derby training sessions with seven workouts on the tab, six at Churchill Downs and one at Belmont Park in New York. The Churchill Downs racetrack, which has been extremely fast during much of the past week, appeared to be quicker than ever Tuesday.

Work of the day

Indian Express (five furlongs in 59.72 seconds). Was the first horse on the track following the renovation break along with his stablemate Kafwain (five furlongs in 59.72), who was withdrawn from Derby consideration shortly after returning to his barn following his workout. With regular exercise rider Dana Barnes aboard, Indian Express broke off inside Kafwain and breezed along with his mate through splits of 24.25 and 36.12 for the opening quarter-mile and three-eighths. Indian Express got out slightly entering the stretch but quickly straightened away once changing leads and ran his final quarter mile in 23.60 while continuing to cruise along unpressured. At the wire, he was beginning to edge away from Kafwain, who had to be put to urging just to keep pace. Indian Express galloped out a strong six furlongs in 1:12.81 in his second very impressive work in the last six days.

Lone Star Sky (five furlongs in 1:00.58). Was the lone Derby contender to work before the renovation break, coming out nearly 45 minutes behind schedule at 7 a.m. He trained over a track that had been chewed up quite a bit since opening at 5:15 a.m. He needed to work well to get the green light to be entered in the Derby and passed his final test with flying colors. With jockey Calvin Borel aboard, Lone Star Sky went an easy opening three furlongs in 37.28 then finished his final quarter-mile in 23.30 without need of urging. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.

Supah Blitz (four furlongs in 47.12). With jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. up and blinkers on, Supah Blitz came away from the pole relaxed enough, running his opening furlong in 12.72 and quarter-mile in 24.75 while picking up some unexpected company midway around the turn. He quickened the pace noticeably thereafter, readily leaving his workmate in the dust once leveling off in early stretch, and was put to pressure to complete a final quarter-mile in an eye-catching 22.37. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.79, and has made a favorable visual impression since his arrival last weekend.

Offlee Wild (five furlongs in 59.16). Came away full of run, turning in an opening furlong in 11.58 while immediately drifting off the rail. He came to hand around the bend, and despite drifting out farther entering the stretch, he sustained a solid pace while under moderate pressure. He completed his final quarter-mile in 23.87, with jockey Robby Albarado having to make an effort with his left rein to keep his mount from drifting farther out through midstretch. Offlee Wild continued on well past the wire, galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.95.

Sir Cherokee (five furlongs in 1:00.38). Turned in one of the slower clockings of the Derby contenders but did catch a slightly more cut up track, being the last of the group to work. He went along at an even pace (12.39, 24.89, and 36.98) early for jockey Terry Thompson, who sat chilly throughout. He finished willingly once given some light urging near midstretch, covering the final quarter-mile in 23.40. Would have liked to have seen a little stronger gallop out than 1:14 for six furlongs, but he made a very favorable overall impression. Viable longshot.

Funny Cide (five furlongs in 58.43 at Belmont Park). Worked after the renovation break. He broke off at the half-mile pole with regular exercise rider Robin Smullin up and went along at a very easy pace. He galloped out strongly with trainer Barclay Tagg having to pull him up aboard a pony on the backstretch.

Empire Maker came out at 6:45 a.m. and jogged one mile the wrong way around the track. Empire Maker appeared a bit choppy coming around the clubhouse turn and past the wire but was traveling smoother as he made his way down the backstretch before pulling up near the five-furlong pole.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson