06/14/2005 12:00AM

Oneofacat better than last suggests


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sometimes a loss can legitimately be blamed on extraneous factors, such as a slow pace, but far more often a horse is defeated simply because it didn't run fast enough. It might be tempting to say Oneofacat was helpless to overtake a front-running winner in her last start, but the more plausible explanation for her distant third-place finish as the favorite in that May 28 race at Churchill Downs was because she did not fire her best shot.

Neil Howard, who trains Oneofacat for David Mowat, tends to shy from flimsy excuses, and so when he saddles the 4-year-old filly for a return engagement in a third-level allowance Thursday at Churchill, all he will be looking for is a better effort. Five other fillies and mares were entered with Oneofacat in the featured ninth race, which carries a $55,800 purse and will be contested at the seldom-run distance of 7 1/2 furlongs.

will be turning back from a two-turn race and breaking from the outside post under Robby Albarado, and it is that change in distance - and the highly possible upturn in tempo that frequently comes with it - that could help get Oneofacat back to the winner's circle.

Still, regardless of pace, Oneofacat will need to run considerably faster to grade out higher than the 74 Beyer Speed Figure she earned in her latest defeat. Nevertheless, there are several races on her past performances to strongly suggest she is capable of doing just that.

The most logical threats to Oneofacat appear to be , a Louisiana Downs invader who will be ridden by Pat Day, and Dewey's Trick, who has raced primarily on grass in Southern California but could pose a major threat on the front end for jockey Corey Lanerie.

The rest of the field is Evil Eye Aly, , and Pick of the Pack.

One other allowance, a $53,300, second-level allowance route for fillies and mares, directly precedes the feature on a 10-race card. Howard has a major contender in that race, too - Private Gift, a 3-year-old who evidently had no use for the Pimlico slop when soundly defeated in the May 20 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, her most recent start.

Several other races, including a $50,000 claiming sprint (race 2), a $40,000 claiming route on turf (race 5), and two turf routes for maiden special-weight company (races 7, 10), are also on the card. First post is at 1:15 p.m. Eastern.