01/23/2004 1:00AM

Paasch energized by move to Lexington


After spending past years in Southern California, trainer Chris Paasch would have a right to be frustrated by cold, winter racing in Kentucky. But he says he finds conditions in Kentucky downright balmy.

"I'm originally from upstate New York," he said. "This is like a Hawaiian weekend."

Irrespective of the weather, Paasch is in a positive mood. He won a race Wednesday night at Turfway Park with Mighty David, and the construction at Victory Haven Training Center, which he manages, is proceeding rapidly.

Victory Haven Training Center in Lexington, formerly 505 Farms, is being converted into a state-of-the-art training center, Paasch said. Since construction began at the facility last year, four 48-horse barns have been built on the farm's grounds, and 900 tons of material has been added to the facility's six-furlong training track.

Long-term plans call for more improvements. A five-furlong grass gallop, which will allow for three-furlong turf works, should be ready by mid-April, Paasch said. He said a large indoor arena would also be constructed to help accommodate training during harsh winter conditions.

Over the past year, trainers Steve Asmussen, Burk Kessinger, and Eric Reed have stabled horses at Victory Haven - in addition to horses that Paasch trains. With the construction of the new barns, there is space for more additions in 2004.

The changes at the farm have also created changes for Paasch as a trainer. He used to claim horses when based in California, but not wanting to discourage participation at Victory Haven, he has not claimed horses in Kentucky.

He said he chose to manage Victory Haven and train a select 15-horse stable in Kentucky for a variety of reasons, including frustration caused by short fields in California and rising cost of workers' compensation insurance there.

Ultimately, he credits his wife, Bonnie, for giving him the push he needed to try this new venture. An experienced trainer herself, she stayed behind in California to train their horses until the spring of 2003, when Paasch got the training center running in Kentucky.

With a nudge from Bonnie, Paasch is now Kentucky-based for 10 months of the year. The two-month exception comes in the summer. "I made her promise me that she'd let me go to Del Mar," he said.

Canceled races to be rescheduled

Extreme cold caused Turfway Park to cancel races 4-9 Thursday night. The temperature was around 20 degrees, with gusting winds resulting in a wind chill of about 5 degrees.

Racing secretary Rick Leigh said he plans to offer the canceled races as extras, provided they do not fall too close to upcoming races in the condition book.

Thursday's abbreviated card marked the first cancellation of the winter/spring meet, which began Jan. 1. Due in part to cancellations at other tracks this winter, business and handle have been favorable at Turfway this year, Leigh said.

In other positive news, incentive money for Kentucky-breds in maiden and allowance races at Turfway has been increased approximately $2,000 to $3,000 per race.

Mc Mahon's class stands out

Sunday's ninth race, an open $36,100 allowance at one mile, serves as a prep for the Feb. 14 Dust Commander Stakes.

Mc Mahon, a two-time stakes winner in Chicago last year, is the class of the field. He comes off a close second-place finish in an optional claiming race at Hawthorne Dec. 11. Rafael Bejarano rides for trainer Michele Boyce.

The horse to catch is Unpeteable, a former $5,000 claimer who has risen to become a successful allowance horse. He has won three of his last four starts and six of his last nine.