04/18/2002 11:00PM

Limping McPeek cites precedence


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When Ken McPeek showed up in the winner's circle after he sent out Police Alert to win the third race Friday at Keeneland, the trainer was hobbling on crutches and wearing a special protective boot, the result of a foot fracture suffered in a pick-up basketball game Thursday night in Louisville.

"Fifth metatarsal bone," said McPeek, 39. "Six to 10 weeks." The fracture resulted from a wet spot on the playing surface. "My foot slipped, and then I kind of rolled it on the dry part," McPeek said.

Happily for McPeek, who trains likely Kentucky Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday, the injury shouldn't necessarily come as bad news. The last time a trainer got hurt playing basketball leading up to a Triple Crown event was in 1998, when Elliott Walden sent out Victory Gallop to win the Belmont Stakes.

"Elliott and I have already talked at length about it," said McPeek.

Legal troubles over, Saints Cup is back

Saints Cup, who was the subject of a lawsuit two years ago, made a smashing return to the races Friday after an absence of more than 2 1/2 years. Now 5, Saints Cup led all the way to win the sixth race, an entry-level allowance sprint, by 1 3/4 lengths.

In his only previous start, Saints Cup trounced eight other 2-year-olds on the 1999 Travers day undercard at Saratoga. Without racing again, he then was sold for $850,000 at the November breeding stock sale at Keeneland, but the buyer, Peter Callahan, returned him to owner Bob "Country" Roberts, claiming the colt had a damaged tendon.

A series of legal battles ensued, with a settlement finally coming last year. Callahan was ordered to pay about $250,000 in legal costs for Roberts, who retained ownership. Since then, Sam and Jeri Knighton bought Saints Cup, who returned to training in late December at Turfway for trainer Steve Margolis. "I brought him along slowly, making sure I got him here in one piece," said Margolis, who won his first-ever Keeneland race. "It's kind of funny that it happened here, where all the controversy first started."

Werner still a baby kingmaker

As most observers believed would happen, Ronny Werner has won the most 2-year-old races so far at the meet. From nine 2-year-old races (through Friday), Werner has won three - and a fourth just eluded his grasp on Thursday when Advancing Storm was caught on the wire.

"That was a tough one," Werner said wistfully.

Advancing Storm led most of the way before Devil's Wing came abreast in the final yards. Advancing Storm had a narrow lead before and after the wire - but it was the nose of Devil's Wing that was ahead when it counted.

Cashier's Dream will go in La Troienne

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Cashier's Dream, one of the top 2-year-old fillies last year, will bypass the Stonerside Beaumont here Friday in favor of the May 2 La Troienne at Churchill Downs.

"We all know how much she likes Churchill," said Asmussen referring to how Cashier's Dream began her career with aplomb last spring at Churchill. The filly's most recent start resulted in a second-place finish behind You in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont last October.