04/17/2006 11:00PM

Maiden has winning form

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Even the most experienced of racing fans might never have seen a maiden who twice has finished first.

Dale Romans hasn't just seen one - he has trained two.

"I had a horse about 10 years ago, named Battle of Midway, I think," recalled Romans. "Got him from my father-in-law," trainer William Fox Sr., for whom the horse had been disqualified from an apparent victory for an ontrack foul, then from another apparent victory because of a positive post-race test.

"I finally got his maiden broke the third time," said Romans.

Now comes a second Romans runner to encounter remarkably rotten luck at the outset of his career - the aptly named Yate's Black Cat. Thursday, Romans will send out Yate's Black Cat as a viable contender in a field of eight 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland.

finished first for his former trainer, Mac Robertson, last fall at Hawthorne, only to be disqualified for an ontrack incident. Then, in his second start after being privately purchased and turned over to Romans by a partnership headed by Des Moines, Iowa, attorney Jerry Crawford, Yate's Black Cat finished first in a March 13 maiden race at Gulfstream Park - only to be disqualified again for a bumping incident.

Romans said with a laugh that Yate's Black Cat is "a little better than your average maiden" and thought the Forerunner, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, was worth a try. He said he was partly encouraged by the fact Yate's Black Cat finished ahead of Giant Basil in his last race, and Giant Basil wheeled back to win an April 8 turf allowance at Keeneland.

Probably the horse for Yate's Black Cat to beat is , is a two-time turf winner who will try to rebound from a subpar effort in the Lane's End Stakes.

The rest of the Forerunner field is Act of God, Red Zone, In a Flash, Our Dancer, and Wise River.

The Forerunner is the eighth of nine races on a Thursday card that also includes three allowances (races 3, 6, 7) and a pair of 2-year-old maiden dashes (races 2 and 4).