04/10/2008 11:00PM

Oaks filling up quickly


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs racing officials are listing 10 fillies as confirmed candidates for the May 2 Kentucky Oaks, while also keeping tabs on at least a dozen more.

At this early juncture, the likely favorites for the Grade 1 Oaks appear to be the Larry Jones duo of Proud Spell and Eight Belles, while other major contenders include Little Belle, Bsharpsonata, Country Star, and Ariege.

Other known Oaks candidates are Pure Clan, Awesome Chic, Kadira, and Alina, who would have to be made eligible by a $25,000 supplementary fee.

In the meantime, Churchill officials were monitoring the Comely on Saturday at Aqueduct, where possible Oaks runners such as Elusive Lady, Lady Chace, and Zaftig were scheduled to clash. They also are waiting to hear definitive word from the connections of such viable prospects as Shes All Eltish, Golden Doc A, Game Face, Final Fling, and Minewander.

Although as many as 20 horses can run in the Kentucky Derby, the Oaks field is limited to 14, with eligibility also determined by graded earnings. The Oaks frequently has been oversubscribed in recent years.

Workout will decide Adriano's next

Adriano, winner of the March 22 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park, will have a workout this weekend at Churchill that will determine whether he runs in the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland next Saturday, or in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Graham Motion said he won't race in both.

Motion said the work is to determine how the colt handles the dirt. All but one of Adriano's seven starts have been on turf or Polytrack, and his one attempt on dirt resulted in a ninth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Otherwise, as of Friday, the connections of only a few nominees had committed to the 1 1/16-mile Lexington, although a sizable field generally is the rule. Known starters include Racecar Rhapsody, Salute the Sarge, Big Glen, and Tomcito.

Racecar Rhapsody, fourth in the Lane's End in his 3-year-old debut, "has to win for us to even think about anything any bigger for him," said trainer Ken McPeek. "He's one of those horses still on the fringes. He's done super since the Lexington, and I really think he's going to be tough to beat in the Lexington."

Racecar Rhapsody was scheduled to have his final prerace breeze Saturday at Churchill.

With a winner's share of about $200,000, the Lexington winner usually is able to make the cut into the Derby field.

Serious talent throughout card

As often happens at Keeneland, some interesting horses have turned up in non-featured races. To wit, the Sunday card drew A to the Croft, a multiple graded-stakes-placed filly, in an entry-level allowance (race 7), while Danzon, a close third last May versus males in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, returns to action against her own kind in a classified turf allowance (race 5).

McPeek said if A to the Croft wins Sunday, "there's a good chance we'd think about the Oaks."

Danzon, unraced since running 10th in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, will be making her first start for Todd Pletcher. She had been trained by Patrick Biancone, who began serving a one-year medication suspension in October.

Picklesimer named to Colonial post

Tyler Picklesimer, a racing official in Kentucky since 1994, has been hired as the new racing secretary at Colonial Downs in Virginia, replacing Randy Wehrman, a longtime Kentucky official who soon will assume the same position at the Charles Town Races in a full-time capacity.

Picklesimer - whose stepfather is Rick Leigh, an association steward at Keeneland and Churchill and the racing secretary at Turfway - said he will leave for Colonial shortly after the May 3 Derby. Picklesimer has worked recently as the assistant racing secretary at Turfway, the stakes coordinator at Keeneland, and paddock judge at Churchill.

The 45-day summer meet at Colonial begins June 9. Stall applications are due April 15.