10/28/2008 12:00AM

Layoff trio hard to gauge


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Given their best effort, any of three horses look more than capable of capturing the Wednesday feature at Churchill Downs: Mitigation, Ling Ling Qi, and Silver Lord.

Yet all three will be returning from layoffs when helping to fill out a field of seven entered in the eighth of 10 Wednesday races, a $53,000 allowance/optional claimer at six furlongs.

Mitigation was a 3 1/4-length winner of the Hansel Stakes on the March 22 Lane's End Stakes undercard at Turfway Park, then promptly underwent surgery to repair a condylar fracture in his right foreleg.

Ling Ling Qi, an allowance winner at Gulfstream Park and Churchill earlier in the year, also will be coming off "a significant issue," according to trainer Ken McPeek, when the colt makes his first start in nearly five months.

Silver Lord, winner of the Louisiana Handicap in January, had a small chip removed from an ankle since his last start, the April 5 Oaklawn Handicap.

"It looks kind of tough to figure how this race will shake out," said Ron Moquett, who trains Silver Lord. "My horse is a running son of a gun, but I'm kind of superstitious about him coming back. So far I like the way he's doing, but he's so fast, sometimes those are the horses that are hard to keep sound."

Jesus Castanon rides Mitigation, Robby Albarado has the call on Ling Ling Qi, and Calvin Borel is named aboard Silver Lord.

Besides the layoff horses, the Wednesday feature also drew contenders with recency and solid form, including two horses with four-race win streaks earlier this year. Native Ruler capped his four-race blitz by winning the Iowa Sprint Handicap in June for owner Maggi Moss and trainer Chris Richard. Grand Traverse ended his run by taking the Luke Kruytbosch Memorial on closing day of the Ellis Park meet.

Timbucto and Neverbeendancin' round out the cast.

One other allowance, the ninth race, also is carded Wednesday at Churchill. A $48,000 entry-level sprint for fillies and mares, the supporting feature drew a wide-open group, with maybe Nursery Rhyme, Time Flies, Beau's Valentine, and Anachini rating the closest looks.

One starter-allowance (race 2) also is on tap Wednesday, when first post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

Handicapping contests, with cash prizes and berths in the Nov. 23 finals at stake, are being held every Wednesday and Sunday at the fall meet.