06/19/2006 11:00PM

May Gator - flaws and all - in right spot


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - May Gator is not one of those racehorses who shows win after win in her past performances. She has won just once over her last 18 starts, a stretch dating back to the summer of 2004.

In Thursday's eighth race at Churchill Downs - a $68,000 allowance at a mile on turf - her suspect record appears forgivable. The race is restricted to horses who have not won $18,500 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter or statebred since Oct. 1.

In other words, is facing competition that looks similar to her. Only one of her seven rivals - Dash of Humor - shows a win in 2006, and that came on dirt. Others, such as Mocha Queen and Singit, have not won over the last 12 months and act as if they prefer turf sprints. And yet another, Virden, has not even raced since May of 2005.

Although they might be lacking wins, these mares are not lacking class. is stakes-placed on turf in 2006; and Mocha Queen and Singit are both stakes winners.

Also in the field is , winner of the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream in March 2005 but who is winless in six starts since.

May Gator appears the most probable winner. A multiple stakes winner as a younger mare, she comes off a third-place finish behind the front-running Flying Glitter in a paceless race May 28. In a couple of other top local performances at Churchill over the years, she was also second to Fast Cookie in an allowance at Churchill last fall and second to Aud in the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap in November 2004.

A winner of 10 of 56 starts, May Gator has made $557,303, with more than $525,000 of that coming for her current owners, Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein, who claimed her for $30,000 at Churchill Downs in July of 2002. Jesus Castanon will ride for trainer Steve Flint.

Virden, away from the races since winning the Grade 3 Senorita at Hollywood Park on May 8 of last year, is an intriguing entrant.

Bobby Frankel is her new trainer following a change in ownership, and she has been working steadily toward her return. Frankel is 39 for 124 (31 percent) over the last five years with horses starting for him for the first time who are also returning following a layoff of 180 days or more.

Apprentice Julien Leparoux will ride Virden, the likely pacesetter.