04/03/2007 11:00PM

Nothing artificial about this success


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Patrick Biancone once again is far ahead of the curve, although that's nothing new for a trainer who had a Horse of the Year when he was a mere 31. Biancone was an outspoken proponent of Polytrack before some horsemen had even heard of the synthetic surface, and now that Keeneland is overwhelmed with requests for stalls, Biancone is reaping the benefit of foresight, having been granted enough space to keep 65 horses on the grounds.

"I knew about Polytrack from Europe, and I knew how good it was," said Biancone, a 54-year-old native of France who trained the 1983 Horse of the Year, All Along.

Confident and prepared, Biancone brought an aggressive agenda to the 2006 fall meet, the first meet for Polytrack at Keeneland, and the results showed: He was the leading trainer with 11 wins. Now that all the other major operations have a Polytrack meet under their belts, Biancone is not necessarily expecting to repeat as leading trainer at the spring meet that begins Friday, but he is cautiously optimistic.

"I don't know if we can [repeat]," he said. "Maybe 90 percent of my best horses have had the winter off, and everyone else has horses with seasoning - they've been racing at Gulfstream, California, wherever. Many of my horses will have good form, and they have been training very well here, but they may lack a bit of fitness because they haven't had a race in so long."

On an unseasonably warm morning earlier this week, Biancone was hustling back and forth in his customized golf cart, coordinating the training maneuvers of large sets of horses. He seldom is still for long, since he would prefer to be in three spots at once - trackside watching the horses train, or at either of his barns, which are situated about as far apart as possible on the backstretch. Such a far-flung setup calls for oversized numbers - for instance, he employs 14 exercise riders at Keeneland - but this is how the big dogs do it these days.

"I usually have that many exercise riders at once," said Biancone, "but it just looks like more because they are all in one place. In the past, they were split up. Now, this is our base. Before, we were a moving factory. Now the factory has a base."

The Biancone factory keeps spitting out high-class runners. Gone to retirement is his most accomplished horse of 2006, Gorella, but a half-dozen or so appear capable of rushing into that void, most notably Asi Siempre, whose owner, Martin Schwartz, also happened to own Gorella. Asi Siempre won the Gradeo1 Spinster in highly impressive fashion here last fall, then finished second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff before being disqualified to fourth.

Asi Siempre will make her 2007 debut at this meet.

"She will run in the Doubledogdare," a Grade 3 race at 1o1/16 miles on Polytrack on April 18, said Biancone. "We gave her a break this winter and brought her back here, slowly. She is doing very well. The idea is to have a fresh horse so they can be productive the rest of the year, the way they all used to do it."

Biancone also has targeted graded races for Bayeux, who most recently was a late-flying second in the Gradeo1 Kilroe Mile on the Santa Anita turf, and for Belgravia, who became ill in February and was taken off the Kentucky Derby trail. Bayeux will run in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile on April 13, and Belgravia, who has fully recovered and worked a swift six furlongs here last weekend, is likely for the Gradeo2 Lexington on April 21.

Biancone did not specify races for four more stakes-caliber runners - Mauralakana, Lady of Venice, Danzon, and Alloway - but said he expects that most, if not all, of his best horses would run at the meet.

"This is what we have been pointing to for months," he said. "We will try to make a good showing, no?"