01/03/2008 1:00AM

Lane's End prep lacks a standout


Some 2 1/2 months from now, Kentucky Derby hopefuls will parade around the Turfway Park paddock prior to the Lane's End Stakes. Until then, a series of local preps for the Lane's End will attract some decent 3-year-olds, which might be a charitable way to describe the collective field for the first of those preps, the $50,000 Turfway Prevue on Saturday.

A field of 11 is entered in the Turfway Prevue, the 11th of 12 races at the Florence, Ky., track, and with nary a winner of an open stakes, the probable favorite is Spice House. The winner of a maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs in his July debut, Spice House subsequently captured a Turfway allowance in September before finishing last in the Bourbon Stakes on the Keeneland turf in his most recent start in October. Since then, he has been working steadily at Churchill.

Co-owned by breeder Clarkland Farm and trainer Greg Foley, Spice House will break from post 4 under John McKee in the 6 1/2-furlong Prevue.

One of the top challengers could be Cape Hatteras, who just one Saturday ago came rolling to finish second in a Turfway allowance.

"The timing, that's the bad thing," said Chip Brownfield, who trains Cape Hatteras for Tim Schneider. "But he did run a big race last Saturday, he came out of the race good, and we'd kind of been shooting for this spot all along. Hopefully this will get us back up to date."

Other major contenders include U.S. Cavalry, winner of a Churchill allowance last out for trainer Mike Maker, and Mr. Flamboyant, who earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in an allowance triumph two starts ago at Mountaineer Racetrack.

One Prevue starter has won three stakes, albeit restricted ones: Hot Chili, winner of three straight Michigan-bred races last summer and fall for trainer Laura Jackson. Hot Chili's Beyers suggest he has his work cut out for him Saturday.

The Turfway Prevue is the first of six stakes for 3-year-olds at the winter-spring meet. It is followed by the $50,000 WEBN Stakes on Feb. 2, the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial on March 1, and the $500,000 Lane's End, $100,000 Rushaway, and $50,000 Hansel, all on March 22.