01/29/2009 1:00AM

Music City steps up to stakes in WEBN


Bill Helmbrecht has such a lengthy history in racing that he can tell stories of riding horses at county fairs in and around his hometown of Antigo, Wis., in the mid-1960s for a then-unknown trainer by the name of D. Wayne Lukas.

"Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, whatever they'd run around a bullring back then," Helmbrecht said.

After a short-lived riding career, Helmbrecht turned to training, a livelihood he has pursued - with a considerable number of ups and downs - for more than 40 years. On Saturday, when he runs Music City as one of the favorites in the $50,000 WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park, Helmbrecht, 63, is hoping to add to his career highlights.

Music City enters the one-mile WEBN off back-to-back wins over the Polytrack surface at Turfway, including a Jan. 14 allowance score by five lengths.

"It seems like he'll do anything," said Helmbrecht, whose brother, Michael, owns the son of City Zip. "He's a green colt with quite a bit of ability."

A field of 10 has been entered in the WEBN, the first two-turn stakes for 3-year-olds at the winter-spring meet at Turfway in Florence, Ky. The $100,000 John Battaglia Stakes comes four weeks later on Feb. 28, while two more are set for March 21: the annual meet highlight, the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes, and the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes.

"We'd like to be able to go on to the Battaglia with him," said Helmbrecht, whose career statistics have fluctuated wildly since he saddled his first starter in 1968. In 1989, Helmbrecht won 70 races from 442 starts, both career highs, but from 1995 through 2002, when his primary focus was on pinhooking horses out of Ocala, Fla., he won just 7 races from 98 starts.

"It comes and goes in this game," he said. "Sometimes it's hard to remember what a good one's like, but when you've got one, you sure know it."

Otto Thorwarth will retain the mount on Music City, who was assigned post 7. His chief threats appear to be Parade Clown (post 9), a Donamire Farm homebred who was second as the favorite in the Jan. 14 prep; Lookn Mighty Fast (post 4), a maiden who actually finished well ahead of Music City in a Dec. 5 race at Turfway; and Azicharmyou (post 3), a run-off maiden winner Jan. 9 at Turfway.