11/24/2005 12:00AM

Major step for French Park

Four-Footed Fotos
French Park wins the Pocahontas for her second victory in two starts. She is out to take a step toward the Kentucky Oaks in the Golden Rod Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When Helen Pitts returns next spring to Louisville after wintering in Florida, she hopes to have viable candidates for some of the major races at her adopted home track, Churchill Downs. One of those long-range possibilities is French Park, a filly who could take a big step toward the Kentucky Oaks when she puts her unbeaten record on the line Saturday in the $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill.

has done nothing wrong so far for Pitts, having won an October maiden race at Keeneland and the Pocahontas Stakes three weeks ago at Churchill. As one of nine 2-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod, she will be getting another big test, but Pitts is expecting another big effort.

"I've got to love her because she's training super," said Pitts. "The question is whether she can go that far, but I really think she'll be fine. She's got a great mind. There's a lot of speed in there, but she's pretty handy."

French Park will be ridden again by Mark Guidry when she breaks from post 3 in the Grade 2 Golden Rod, which helps close out the Churchill fall meet by sharing top billing with its brother race, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Like many other Kentucky trainers, Pitts, who took over most of the Ken McPeek stable in July, will head next month to Gulfstream Park, where, she said, she will have about 25 horses.

Other major contenders in the Golden Rod include , a highly impressive debut winner for trainer Patrick Biancone and jockey Gary Stevens on the Pocahontas undercard; and Tiztimetokinect, a 19-length maiden winner at Keeneland.

The rest of the field is Beau Dare, Magnificent Song, Dance Daily, Lady Danza, and Giant Commander.

She Says It Best has posted two solid workouts since finishing ninth of 10 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies four weeks ago at Belmont Park.

"Pretty much everything went wrong for us in New York," said trainer Vickie Foley. "We didn't have a whole lot of fun up there."

* The training debut of Ian Wilkes was delayed when Bootery was scratched from the ninth race Thursday because of a fever. Now the first starter for Wilkes is scheduled to be Westerly Gale in the last race Saturday. Wilkes, the longtime assistant to Carl Nafzger, will take over the day-to-day training of the stable Jan. 1.

* The Churchill stewards have suspended jockey Luis Munar for 15 racing days for careless riding. Munar, riding Drew's Delight in the sixth race Wednesday, was deemed responsible for causing a spill involving Cleared for Flight and apprentice Randall Toups. No jockeys or horses were seriously injured.

* Tim Gardner and Ron Kirby both earned a seat at the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas in January by finishing one-two in Churchill's handicapping finals Wednesday. Gardner, of Louisville, earned the $5,000 top prize.