11/19/2002 12:00AM

No shortage of action on the day


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Horseplayers frequently say they don't mind a little slip in quality, if only the quantity is there.

Loose translation: Full fields are fantastic, as long as you don't scrape the bottom of the barrel. If that's so, then horseplayers won't want to miss the nine-race Thursday card at Churchill Downs, where only one race drew fewer than 10 starters and the average field size, counting also-eligibles, is 12.

The nominal feature is the eighth race, a $44,600 second-level allowance that drew 11 filly and mare sprinters. As with many races with large fields, there is quite a bit from which to choose, from speed horses (Ashley G, Storm Witch) to stalkers (My Heart's Deelite, Wawasee) to closers (Madam Rochas, Boone's Diamond, Soul Sister).

Dale Romans, who once again is in the thick of the Churchill trainers' race, has two of those contenders, My Heart's Deelite and Soul Sister. My Heart's Deelite will have the hot apprentice John McKee aboard in her attempt to improve on a third-place finish at this same allowance level Nov. 5. Soul Sister will step up in company after defeating a solid field of entry-level fillies on Nov. 6.

Steve Asmussen, who won the fall training title here last year and remains a threat to repeat, also has a stable entry in the feature, Storm Witch and White Scarf.

The feature is surrounded by allowance races, both of which are scheduled to be run on the turf. Four-horse also-eligibles lists will help to ensure big fields in both spots.

In the seventh, a $45,900 race at a mile, Romans has one of a handful of logical contenders in Onlycook Half Ofit, who drew post 10 with Pat Day to ride. Self Esteem, Rutledge Gold, Red Antics, and Crackajack are others who figure to be competitive with top efforts.

In the ninth and final race, for $43,400 at 1 1/16 miles, trainer Jonathan Sheppard runs Risotto, the possible favorite. Other logical possibilities include Royal Sky, Mountain Style, and Glorious Grace.

Two-year-olds will compete in two of the earlier races on the Thursday card. In the fourth, an overflow field of $80,000 maiden claimers should make for some interesting wagering, while in the sixth, a full field of maiden special-weight fillies will travel around two turns in yet another race that should be intriguing to bettors.

First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

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