07/07/2005 12:00AM

New barn for Forest Music


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Forest Music, arguably one of the fastest fillies in North America on her best day, had her first breeze this week at Churchill Downs since having been sold recently by Michael Gill to California vintner Jess Jackson.

Early Tuesday, Forest Music "went very, very easy" in a breeze that was not timed by Equibase clockers, said the filly's new trainer, Steve Asmussen. "I'm just in the process of trying to figure out who she is, so I have no idea what race will be her next one," he said.

Asmussen said Forest Music will be one of 27 horses who will ship Wednesday from Churchill to Saratoga, where the summer meet starts July 27. In 15 starts for Gill, who is in the process of selling off much of his racing stock, Forest Music won five races, including four stakes, and earned nearly $270,000.

Originally purchased by Gill for $325,000 in February 2003, Forest Music, a 4-year-old Unbridled's Song filly, has an extremely high turn of foot that almost always takes her to the early lead. Two starts back, she led wire-to-wire in the April 16 Primonetta Stakes at Laurel Park, earning a 106 Beyer Speed Figure. Since winning a maiden race at Laurel in October 2003, she has run in nothing but stakes.

Jackson, the Kendall-Jackson winery billionaire who has been very prominent at horse sales in recent months, bought the former Buckram Oak Farm property near Lexington, Ky., for a reported $17.5 million earlier this year. He has said he wants to make an impact as a horse owner, and Forest Music would seem to represent an opportunity to do so.

Meanwhile, Asmussen said his star 3-year-old filly, Summerly, remains on target for the July 23 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont. Summerly had been based at Churchill Downs, where she won the May 6 Kentucky Oaks, until running third in the June 25 Mother Goose at Belmont, where she has remained stabled.

Another close second for Ramseys

Unless they somehow pull out an improbable victory at the 11th hour, this will be the second straight meet at Churchill that Ken and Sarah Ramsey will have been narrowly defeated in the race for leading owner. The Ramseys, who through the 2004 spring meet had won or shared nine straight Churchill owner titles, trailed Billy Hays by three wins heading into the Thursday card. The meet ends Sunday.

Hays, in tandem with trainer Joe Woodard, has enjoyed an uncanny meet, having won 19 races from just 40 starters, a 48-percent clip. The Ramseys had won with 16 of 48 starters, or 33 percent.

The Ramseys were denied a 10th straight Churchill title last fall when Overbrook Farm edged them by a 5-4 count.

Dale Romans and Rafael Bejarano long ago wrapped up the trainer and jockey titles, respectively.

Horse at Ellis suspected of strangles

Officials with the Kentucky state veterinarian's office reported Wednesday that a horse at Ellis Park was removed from the grounds last weekend with a suspected case of strangles.

Rusty Ford, equine programs manager for the veterinarian's office, said no other horses were affected and that the barn in which the horse had been stabled has been placed under quarantine.

An outbreak of strangles, a bacterial disease, had a major impact earlier this year on racetracks and training centers in Kentucky and south Florida before being contained.

Extra races on last two cards

Churchill will run 11 races, one more than usual, on the last two programs of the spring meet, Saturday and Sunday. The pick six will be held on races 6-11 each day, and the last race will be run at about 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Because Sunday is the end of the meet, there will be a mandatory dispersal of the pick six pool regardless of whether any perfect tickets are sold.