05/22/2007 11:00PM

Mauralakana preps on cruise control


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The connections of the horses who opposed Mauralakana in an allowance prep for the Mint Julep Handicap surely are relieved the filly won't be back for the main event.

Gliding to a highly impressive victory in the sixth race Wednesday at Churchill Downs, Mauralakana was tuning up for the Grade 2 Just a Game Breeders' Cup, part of the June 9 Belmont Stakes undercard at Belmont Park. Trainer Patrick Biancone described the four-length victory in the $54,470 allowance race as "a public gallop."

Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Mauralakana was forwardly placed when saving ground in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. Turning for home, Leparoux angled her out, and she easily went past Delicate Dynamite and Honey Rose to post her first victory in five North American starts. She returned $3.60 as the favorite after finishing in 1:42.59 over a firm course.

Honey Rose, the pacesetter under Rafael Bejarano, gamely held second by a nose over Delicate Dynamite. Rich in Spirit, the 5-2 second choice, was another 2 3/4 lengths back in fourth.

Mauralakana had raced exclusively in graded stakes in this country before dipping into the allowance. She will bypass the $150,000 Mint Julep on June 16 at Churchill, in favor of the $300,000 Just a Game BC a week earlier.

In other action on an exceptionally good Wednesday card, Extreme Supreme ($3.80) drew off late under Bejarano to win the fourth race, a first-level allowance route, and Fate Takes a Hand ($12) won the eighth race, a first-level allowance sprint, with Corey Lanerie aboard.

Extreme Supreme, trained by John Ward, is a 4-year-old colt by Deputy Minister.

"We're setting him up for a big Saratoga and a big fall," said Ward. "We're doing that with almost all our top horses."

Fate Takes a Hand, a 3-year-old colt by Tale of the Cat, won for the second time in three starts. He was claimed from his career debut, a winning effort at Gulfstream Park in February, for $80,000 by owners Bruce Lunsford and Greg Hudson and trainer Frank Brothers.

Dozen entered in Louisville

In recent seasons, fields for the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap have shaded to the short side, but not this year. Twelve older horses have been entered for the $150,000 Louisville, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that starts the Memorial Day weekend with its 70th running Saturday.

There is no decisive favorite in the Louisville, although Ramazutti, the 2006 runner-up, might wind up a slight choice for trainer Todd Pletcher.

From the rail, this is the field: Murch, Always First, I Believe In Me, Transduction Gold, Hotstufanthensome, Cloudy's Knight, Louve des Reves, Royal Assault, Ramazutti, Drilling for Oil, Fri Guy, and Embossed.

Silverfoot, the defending three-time champion in the Louisville 'Cap, is conspicuous by his absence from the lineup, having been sidelined since finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Turf last November. The 7-year-old gelding "just returned to training the other day," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "He deserved some time off after a long, hard campaign."

Brass Hat works for comeback

Brass Hat, the 6-year-old gelding who was injured last July in a routine workout, had his first workout following his recovery period, breezing a half-mile Sunday in 48.60 seconds at the Trackside training center.

Brass Hat, owned by Fred Bradley and trained by Buff Bradley, has not raced since finishing fifth in the Stephen Foster Handicap here last June. The gelding has earned more than $1.2 million.

* High Heels, third behind the Pletcher duo of Rags to Riches and Octave in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks, tuned up for the June 16 Regret Stakes by working five furlongs in 1:01.60 seconds over a firm Churchill turf Tuesday. The Regret will be the grass debut for High Heels, an E Dubai filly.

* Color prints of Street Sense winning the May 5 Derby will be given away to the first 7,500 fans in attendance Saturday.

* Because racing will be held here Monday, normally a dark day, there will be no racing here next Wednesday, May 30. The Memorial Day card will be highlighted by the $100,000 Winning Colors, a filly-mare sprint for which Ready to Please, trained by Todd Pletcher, is the prospective favorite.