11/18/2002 1:00AM

Nafzger takes two swings

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The race for top trainer at Churchill Downs is highly competitive as of Wednesday, which starts the final third of the track's 30-day fall meet. Through Sunday, Carl Nafzger led the standings with 10 wins, followed by Ken McPeek and Dale Romans with nine each and Steve Asmussen with eight.

Nafzger has had the fewest starts among the leaders but is making the most of his opportunities. That theme could continue on Wednesday when Nafzger runs one horse in each of the day's two richest races on a program that starts at 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

In the seventh race, a $59,500 allowance for fillies and mares, Nafzger will send out Bedazzle, a late-running sprinter who will try to negotiate a mile against some tough-looking competition, led by Ever With You and Freefourracing.

The eighth race, a $48,400 allowance, also is for fillies and mares, and Nafzger or his longtime assistant, Ian Wilkes, will tighten the girth on Lead Story, a 3-year-old Editor's Note filly who was terrific in her last start Oct. 29.

That day, Lead Story won at the two-other-than level after getting a fine stalking trip, taking over with a clever rail move, and drawing off to a handy victory.

This time, stepping up to the three-other-than level, Lead Story appears to have Reason to Talk and Ms Isadorable as her main foes in a field of eight.

Morluc's Hong Kong visit No. 3

Trainer Randy Morse said his millionaire turf sprinter Morluc will try to make his third trip to Hong Kong the charm next month. In two previous tries, Morluc, owned by Mike Cloonan, was narrowly beaten in the Hong Kong Turf Sprint, which will be run this year on Dec. 17 at Sha Tin.

Morse plans to breeze the 6-year-old horse Morluc twice before he departs Nov. 26. "Everything has to go perfect [for the horse to make the trip]," Morse said.

o Weight assignments have been released for the lone stakes to be run here this weekend, the $150,000 Cardinal Handicap on Saturday. Calista, trained by Christophe Clement, is the 119-pound highweight for the 24th running of the Grade 3 Cardinal. Four other fillies and mares have been assigned 118: Amonita, Bien Nicole, Megahertz, and Snow Dance.

o Neon Shadow, a sharp allowance winner earlier in the meet, might be pointed to the Nov. 29 Clark Handicap after being scratched Saturday from the Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park, said trainer Carl Bowman.