06/22/2004 12:00AM

Mystic Runner has credentials


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Even a linguist might require a little while to figure it out, but a racetracker wouldn't. A 10-race Thursday card at Churchill Downs might well be called "The Day of the A Other-Than," a title that almost anyone outside the racing game might find semantically vexing to the point of exasperation.

To everyday players, though, it's merely a way to refer to what's happening here Thursday, when three first-level allowance races "or "a other-thans," as they are more commonly called around the ovals - will serve as back-to-back-to-back highlights. The combined purse value for those seventh, eighth, and ninth races is nearly $145,000, a healthy number indeed for a Thursday.

The ninth race, the nominal feature, is a $49,100 race for 3-year-olds and upward at a mile on turf. As has often happened in recent weeks, Tom Amoss - who with Steve Asmussen is challenging Dale Romans for the spring-meet training title - has a very strong contender, this time with Mystic Runner, an Islefaxyou colt who romped to a 5 1/4-length maiden victory in his last start June 10. Although Thursday will be his turf debut, seems to have the pedigree, recency, and overall ability to make a successful transition.

Rafael Bejarano, who appears to have a firm grasp on his first Churchill riding title, has been named to ride Mystic Runner.

Another logical contender in the feature is the Romans-trained , who like Mystic Runner will be making his grass debut.

The eighth race, a $47,900 dirt sprint for 3-year-old fillies, will be the second career start for , who was spectacular romping to a 10 1/2-length triumph when trainer Ronny Werner unveiled her May 15. A bay filly by Unbridled's Song, she earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 83 in that front-running win and figures to be tough to handle with a similar effort Thursday.

Good as Silver, with Bejarano to ride, and I Love the Organ, with Pat Day named, appear to be the main threats to Unbridled Sidney.

The seventh race, a $47,900 race for older horses at five furlongs on the turf, is one of the tougher handicapping puzzles of the day. Veteran trainer Richard Kohnhorst has a nice-looking pair in the uncoupled duo of , both of whom won their respective last starts, while Asmussen seems to have a fair shot with Storm Sizzle and Werner could be in good shape with Smoken Smoke.

First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.