05/19/2002 11:00PM

Night Breeze makes first start for Brothers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The transition is pretty much over.

The Claiborne Farm horses, which resided in the Churchill Downs barn of Frank Brothers for some six years, have been dispersed to other trainers. Meanwhile, the Lazy Lane Farms horses are filling those stalls in the Brothers barn.

The split of Claiborne and Brothers took about six months to complete, having been announced last fall under amicable terms. Although Brothers took some of the Claiborne horses with him to Fair Grounds over the winter, they were gradually phased out, displaced primarily by some of the best horses that Lazy Lane - the Virginia-based stable owned by Joe Allbritton - have in training.

On Wednesday, one of those Lazy Lane horses, Night Breeze, will be led over to make her first start for Brothers when she faces five other filly-mare sprinters in the ninth-race feature at Churchill.

Night Breeze, a speedy Two Punch homebred, won her first three career starts before losing at Gulfstream Park in February, which was her most recent appearance.

First post for the 10-race Wednesday card is 3:10 p.m. The carryover in the $1 pick 6 is $13,139.

Love that Louisville grass

Too bad for Megans Bluff that all the major filly-mare turf races aren't run at Churchill Downs. With her victory Saturday in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap, she ran her career record over the Churchill turf course to four wins from five starts, with her last three coming in graded stakes: the 2000 Mrs. Revere and the last two runnings of the Mint Julep.

John Hennig, who trains Megans Bluff for James Routsong, said the next likely start for the 5-year-old Pine Bluff mare will come here in the June 22 Locust Grove Handicap.

After that, Hennig has penciled in repeat appearances in the Modesty and Beverly D at Arlington.

A rare Day longshot

How good is trainer Niall O'Callaghan going?

Not only did O'Callaghan win major races at three different tracks in a recent eight-day span - the May 11 Lone Star Derby with Wiseman's Ferry, Friday's Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico with Chamrousse, and Saturday's Hawthorne Gold Cup with Hail the Chief - but O'Callaghan also pulled off something nearly as astounding here Sunday.

Forget the Judge, trained by O'Callaghan, drew into the seventh race Sunday, an entry-level turf allowance, as an also-eligible. Jockey Pat Day replaced Robby Albarado, who already was named on favored Fine and Dandy in the race.

Forget the Judge responded by winning at a $26 mutuel, which is believed to be the highest payoff for a Day winner at Churchill in several years.

Clever bettors foiled

Something of a Preakness tradition at Churchill is the offering of separate mutuel pools on the race, along with the simulcast pools from Pimlico.

Alas, price shoppers weren't able to take much of an edge Saturday. War Emblem returned $7.60 to win here and at Pimlico. The $2 exacta paid $345.60 here, compared to $327 at Pimlico. The $2 trifecta here ($2,263.30) was a little less than Pimlico's ($2,311).

Different kind of Foster field

Unlike in past years, when familiar names within the handicap division were part of the field for the Stephen Foster Handicap, the race is coming up with a whole new look.

The leading prospects for the Grade 1, $750,000 Stephen Foster, which will be run here June 15 as the annual post-Kentucky Derby highlight of the spring meet, include Congaree, Invisible Ink, Hail the Chief, Tenpins, and Unshaded.

Unshaded, who ran fifth in the Foster last spring, was upset here Saturday when making his first start in nearly 10 months. X Country, at 10-1 the longest shot in a field of five, defeated Unshaded by a half-length in the one-mile allowance race.

* Lief Linkfield, the longtime gap attendant at Keeneland, is gravely ill in the Leestown division of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Lexington, a Keeneland spokesman said Monday.