11/26/2003 1:00AM

Margolis gets 'Request' again


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The last time Steve Margolis saddled Request for Parole, the race was a pretty big one. In fact, it was the 2002 Kentucky Derby, a race in which Request for Parole finished fifth behind War Emblem.

A lot has changed since then. Request for Parole, owned by Chicago residents Sam and Jeri Knighton, eventually suffered a minor injury and had to be taken out of training. Soon thereafter, Request for Parole was transferred to Margolis's former boss, Stan Hough, who campaigns primarily in New York and Florida. In just over a year, Request for Parole has raced 12 times for Hough, winning twice and more than earning his keep.

In the meantime, Margolis has become a Breeders' Cup-winning trainer, pulling an upset in the BC Sprint last month with Cajun Beat. While his training career had taken several twists and turns before the Breeders' Cup win, Margolis is now on a roll. He has picked up several clients and seeks to build a larger and more productive stable that soon will move to Palm Meadows in south Florida.

Margolis is going so good that he even has Request for Parole back in his barn - even if only for one race. Request for Parole, with Margolis listed as trainer, will start from post 2 Friday in the $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.

"Sam thought he'd let me go on and take care of the horse since they were coming here for the Clark," said Margolis. "The plan is for the horse to go back to Stan in Florida. It's a one-shot deal."

With Margolis watching, Request for Parole worked last Saturday at Churchill, going five furlongs in 1:01.80.

"He's actually grown up a lot," said Margolis, who won three stakes with Request for Parole. "He's definitely matured more as a horse, so that's a positive. Sam decided they wanted to take a chance in the Clark, so here he is."

Meanwhile, Cajun Beat is scheduled to work one more time before moving to Palm Meadows.

"It'll be Sunday or Monday," said Margolis.

Flu won't keep Zito away

Trainer Nick Zito is expected to be here Friday to saddle Quest in the Clark, but only if he is feeling better than he did Wednesday. Zito was bedridden with severe flu-like conditions, leaving the training to assistants Tim Poole and Kristin Crawford.

"It's a big race for us, so I'm sure Nick will be here," said Crawford.

It would take a lot more than the flu to keep Zito from being here Saturday. That's when The Cliff's Edge, one of Zito's many Kentucky Derby hopefuls, will be a solid favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, one of two 2-year-old races that help close out the meet.

Besides The Cliff's Edge, about six or seven other colts and geldings are expected by Churchill officials for the KJC. One late defection with an unspecified injury is Scat Sam Man, winner of an allowance sprint earlier at the meet for trainer Tom Amoss. Amoss said Scat Sam Man injured himself in a Tuesday workout and will be out for at least 60 days.

The KJC's sister race, the Golden Rod Stakes, is expected to get a field of about 10 or 11 fillies, headed by the D. Wayne Lukas pair of Be Gentle and Stellar Jayne and Ken McPeek's duo of Galloping Gal and Sister Star. Other promising prospects include Sheer Luck and Lotta Kim.

The KJC and Golden Rod are both Grade 2, $200,000 races at 1 1/16 miles.

Sore Sellers expected to ride

Jockey Shane Sellers, still bothered by a sore tailbone, took off his two scheduled mounts Wednesday but was expected to ride Crafty Shaw in the Clark and The Cliff's Edge in the KJC.

"He's still a little stiff and sore," said Sellers's agent, Fred Aime. "He didn't want to throw caution to the wind and take a chance on missing those two big horses this weekend."

Johnston gets first Kentucky win

Jockey Mark Johnston notched his first win since moving to Kentucky when he guided first-time starter Colonel Day to victory in the fourth race Wednesday. Three races later he added a second win, with Minister Lady, a 21-1 shot.

The win by Colonel Day also was the first as an agent for recently retired jockey Charlie Woods Jr., who was hired by Johnston earlier this month.

Colonel Day ($15.60) is trained by David Carroll, who ran his meet record to 6 for 16 with the win.

Making the call

Some race-callers tend to have nightmares about tongue twisters, but Luke Kruytbosch can only laugh about the possibility of a three-horse photo finish in the Clark Handicap between Quest, Quest Star, and Request for Parole.

"That'd be great, wouldn't it?" said Kruytbosch. "A real classic."

Kruytbosch, who will complete his fifth full year at Churchill when the meet ends Saturday, will return to Phoenix for the winter. He will resume calling at Turf Paradise next Friday.