04/26/2006 11:00PM

Northern California filly will give Oaks a shot

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Bill Straus
Dawn of War could go on to the Derby if he runs well in the Derby Trial.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Several fringe contenders for the May 5 Kentucky Oaks were out for work Thursday, including a filly who will try to become the first northern California invader to win the Oaks since Pike Place Dancer did so 10 years ago.

Press Camp, trained by Billy Morey, went a mile in 1:44.60 over a fast Bay Meadows track. A speedy California-bred by Comic Strip, Press Camp has raced primarily in sprints on her home circuit.

"We tried to slow her down into the first turn," said Morey. "The idea is to get her used to getting geared down early."

The other two Oaks works both were at five furlongs at Churchill Downs, both by fillies who, at this point, may not be allowed into the field because of insufficient earnings.

Ermine, with Robby Albarado up for trainer Ronny Werner, breezed in 1:01.20, while Red Cherries Spin, with Justin Vitek aboard for trainer Bernie Flint, breezed in 1:01.40.

Entries for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks are to be drawn Tuesday, and at least 16 are expected. If the field remains intact, Ermine and Red Cherries Spin would be excluded, and either or both could resurface in the 7 1/2-furlong La Troienne Stakes on the May 6 Kentucky Derby undercard.

A 17th filly, Miraculous Miss, was termed "90 percent unlikely to come" to the Oaks by her trainer, Steve Klesaris.

Bejarano appealing suspension

Rafael Bejarano has been suspended five racing days for an ontrack incident Wednesday at Keeneland, but the suspension will not prevent the jockey from riding Point Determined in the Kentucky Derby nor Press Camp in the Oaks.

Bejarano's agent, Joe Ferrer, said the jockey has appealed the penalty to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, which gives Bejarano an automatic reprieve from serving the penalty, pending an administrative hearing before the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. In the vast majority of such cases in Kentucky, a jockey will drop the appeal before the hearing is held and serve the suspension at a more convenient time.

The Keeneland stewards said Bejarano was guilty of careless riding when his mount, Onlynurimagination, bumped a rival during the stretch run of the second race Wednesday. Onlynurimagination, the 3-2 favorite, was disqualified from first to fifth.

Kuntzweiler working for return

Greta Kuntzweiler is in the process of trying to get back on the racetrack. Kuntzweiler, the former jockey who was arrested Jan. 7 in her Louisville home on five drug-related charges, has asked the racing authority what she needs to do to be granted an exercise rider's license with the eventual of intent of riding races again. Earlier this month, a Jefferson District Court judge reduced all charges against Kuntzweiler to disorderly conduct.

Kuntzweiler, 30, has completed a 45-day substance rehabilitation program at Ten Broeck in Louisville, according to her attorney, Bob Stallings.

Stallings said the racing authority's executive director, Jim Gallagher, informed him that Kuntzweiler now must go through another rehab program at the Morton Center in Louisville before she can be considered for a license. Stallings said Kuntzweiler must first be accepted into the program and that more would be known in two to three weeks.

America Alive won't defend

America Alive, the 2005 Woodford Reserve winner, will not be defending his title because "he's been a little slow to come around for me this spring," said trainer Neil Howard. "I just ran out of time to make this one."

America Alive was given time off after winning the River City Handicap last November at Churchill. His lone workout since then was a three-furlong breeze on March 30 at Oaklawn Park.

Another inactive Howard trainee is Music School, a 3-year-old A.P. Indy colt who suffered a fractured cannon bone during an April 11 workout at Churchill. "The surgery was successful, and we hope to have him back in training later this summer," said Howard.

Music School was being pointed to the Lexington Stakes before being injured.

Wild Desert in for Alysheba

Wild Desert, the 2005 Queen's Plate winner, was among the Thursday arrivals from New York. Wild Desert, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., figures among the favorites for the $100,000 Alysheba Stakes on the Oaks undercard.

Dutrow, who will have 14 stalls for the spring meet, also plans to run Last Romance in the La Troienne.

* Live racing will be held here Tuesday, normally a dark day. The date essentially replaces the Sunday after the Kentucky Derby, when Churchill always is dark for live racing.

- additional reporting by Chuck Dybdal