06/26/2006 12:00AM

At the Knees capable of repeat

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Making his second start following a layoff of more than six months, figures to improve in Wednesday's featured eighth race at Churchill Downs, a $54,000 first-level allowance at a mile on dirt.

Although he prevailed off a 186-day layoff May 25, winning his first race in the third start of his career, At the Knees did so over relatively weak opponents who have largely struggled in subsequent starts.

Runner-up Just as Well and third-place Codasco came back to finish fourth and fifth, respectively, in a maiden race June 17; fourth-place Air Corredor ran sixth June 7; sixth-place Commander's Shoes ran a distant third June 14; and last-place Captain Crypto finished sixth June 23.

Only Bond Street - who rallied to finish fifth behind At the Knees - came back to win his next start, and he did so when moved to turf.

To At the Knees's credit, he did win decisively - rallying from sixth to score by 1 1/2 lengths. Since that race, At the Knees breezed five furlongs in 59.80 seconds June 7 and five furlongs in 1:01.40 June 18 - works that should set him up for a good performance.

He also showed earlier in his career that he is a horse with promise. Running first out at Keeneland in October, At the Knees rallied from 16 lengths back to finish second to It's No Joke - a colt who would eventually become graded-stakes- placed.

Following that race, At the Knees was bought privately by owner Naveed Chowhan and turned over to trainer Bernie Flint. After a sixth-place finish at Churchill Downs on Nov. 20, a long break ensued.

Working in At the Knees's favor on Wednesday is the fact that he catches a field with a reasonable amount of speed. A deep closer, he should receive legitimate fractions to aid his stretch rally. Apprentice Julien Leparoux rides.

Silverado Trail and Off Duty head the opposition. Silverado Trail ran a close third off a year-and-a-half break June 10, and like At the Knees is a candidate for improvement in his second start following a long layoff. Off Duty, meanwhile, comes off a troubled trip that contributed to a fifth-place finish June 9. Steadied repeatedly when rank behind horses in a slow-paced race June 9, Off Duty should appreciate breaking from the outside post in the field of seven. Jockey Mark Guidry should be able to keep him comfortable in the clear.

Louderfasterharder, Hanky Pank, Mr. Brazil, and Prince's Pleasure complete the field.