05/03/2004 11:00PM

Matt Winn comeback spot for Cuvee


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Cuvee, one of the top 2-year-olds of 2003, will make his first start in more than six months Saturday, in what is likely to be a small field for the $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Cuvee is expected to face Fire Slam, Wildcat Shoes, and several other 3-year-olds in the Matt Winn, a six-furlong race that was inaugurated two years ago.

Cuvee won four races from six starts last year, including three graded stakes. He faltered badly, however, when he finished 12th and last in his final race of the year, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and was injured. Cuvee resumed training over the winter at Fair Grounds with Steve Asmussen and has been working sharply in recent weeks here.

Shane Sellers is scheduled to ride Cuvee in the Matt Winn.

Fire Slam, most recently second to Quintons Gold Rush in the April 17 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, will be turning back from 1 1/16 miles in the Matt Winn. Trainer David Carroll is eyeing the June 5 Riva Ridge Stakes, a seven-furlong race on the Belmont Stakes undercard, as a next possible start for Fire Slam.

"This would be a good place to get him sprinting again," said Carroll.

Wildcat Shoes, trained by Jinks Fires, was competitive in several races leading to the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park this winter.

Other probables for the Matt Winn include Danieltown, Hasslefree, and Jimmy Cracked Corn.

Capac, the Mike Bell-trained colt who skipped the Lexington and Derby Trial, is a possible starter for the Matt Winn, said Churchill officials.

Baffert says Wimbledon injury minor

The tendon injury to Wimbledon, which necessitated his being scratched from Saturday's Kentucky Derby, is minor, said trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert added that Wimbledon should be able to resume his racing career after getting some time off.

"It was just a little spot on the outside of the tendon. It wasn't in the tendon," Baffert said. "He must have hit himself. He'll go to a farm for 60 days."

Wimbledon, the Louisiana Derby winner, was scratched Friday morning, when the tendon injury was discovered in his left front leg. An ultrasound examination conducted later revealed no serious damage to the tendon.

Pass Rush, top Indiana-bred, retires

Pass Rush, the leading Indiana-bred in racing history, has been retired because he "just hasn't come back to himself," trainer Pat Byrne said Tuesday.

Pass Rush, 5, finished sixth in the fourth race here Saturday, a $66,800 allowance, marking his ninth straight defeat.

"He'd already done so much for us, and I wasn't satisfied at all with how he was doing," said Byrne. "It's best that we go on and retire him."

Bred by Swifty Farms and owned by Michael Tabor, Pass Rush posted his greatest career win in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes last year at Santa Anita. He retires with five wins and earnings of $506,225 from 25 starts.

Pass Rush, by Crown Ambassador, will initially be sent to Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., where he will be marketed to breeders in smaller racing jurisdictions.

One day, two tracks, two wins for Bejarano

Jockey Rafael Bejarano had a busy Derby night. After winning the 12th and final race at Churchill Downs on Silver Warrant, Bejarano boarded a private charter plane in time to ride Ellens Lucky Star, an easy winner of the inaugural Shelby County Stakes at Indiana Downs in suburban Indianapolis. "It took about an hour to get up there," said Bejarano's agent, Steve Elzey.

Through the first seven cards at the 53-day Churchill meet, Bejarano, 21, was tied with perennial kingpin Pat Day atop the jockey standings with nine wins each.

Margolis taking it easy with Cajun Beat

Cajun Beat, the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, who has been idle since his trip to Dubai in late March, will probably return to Churchill from owner Padua Stable's Ocala, Fla., farm "in a couple of weeks or so," said trainer Steve Margolis. "There's really not a whole lot out there that would make anything too urgent, so we're going to take our time with him."

Cajun Beat has raced three times this year and will be pointed toward the Oct. 30 BC Sprint at Lone Star Park.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman