03/24/2005 12:00AM

Pedersen 'bringing an army' to Kentucky


FLORENCE, Ky. - Jennifer Pedersen got such a kick out of ambushing the Lane's End Stakes two years ago with New York Hero that she is returning Saturday with every intention of inflicting more damage.

"I'm bringing an army," joked Pedersen.

Indeed, besides Mr Sword for the Lane's End, Pedersen will saddle four other horses on the 12-race Saturday card at Turfway Park: Amazing Buy in the Bourbonette Breeders' Cup Stakes, Daddy Joe in the Rushaway Stakes, Bush's Song in an allowance race, and Funny Jello in a maiden special weight race.

This strong and sizable contingent means that Pedersen, the private trainer for Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable, could emerge as the star of the day. Of course, much of that depends on how Mr Sword fares in the Lane's End.

"I really think he fits with these horses," said Pedersen, whose highly productive winter meet at Aqueduct has gotten her off to the fastest start of her five-year training career. "He's done enough to earn his way into the race. We're looking for him to run very well."

Mr Sword brings a three-race win streak into the Lane's End, having won twice at Laurel Park before capturing a March 2 allowance race at Aqueduct by nearly five lengths. His Beyer Speed Figures and rapid recent improvement suggest he will deserve to be lower odds than the 14-1 at which New York Hero won the 2003 Lane's End, a race that remains the highlight of Pedersen's career.

Pedersen noted that Paragallo was not at Turfway when New York Hero posted his upset, but that they were making the trip together Thursday night from New York.

"I might have to leave him home, right?" she joked.

After Saturday, Pedersen and Paraneck will try to maintain a high profile on the Kentucky circuit for the following six weeks or so. Pedersen said she has about 10 horses ready for the Keeneland spring meet that begins April 8.

Stevens ready for Keeneland

Gary Stevens, the Hall of Fame jockey who will ride Spanish Chestnut for trainer Patrick Biancone in the Lane's End, also will be hanging his hat in Kentucky next month.

Stevens announced earlier this month that he would ride full time at Keeneland for the first time. Stevens said this week that he was dissatisfied with the state of racing on his home circuit in Southern California, especially on weekdays, when fields tend to be short.

"A lot of my decision also was based on staying with Patrick's horses," said Stevens. "He's got some good ones to bring, and I also have some other nice business lined up. I'm really excited about it. Everyone knows how strong the racing is at Keeneland. I just wasn't getting to ride enough out here, and I want to be in the game more than I have been."

Stevens, who will be represented by agent Craig O'Bryan, will ride through the first week of the Churchill Downs meet that starts April 30.

All in the family

When Jinny's Gold runs in the Queen Stakes and Lady Dynasty runs in the Bourbonette Breeders' Cup on Saturday at Turfway, each will have a new trainer of record. Formerly trained by Jamie Fox, both horses will now race in her husband Greg's name.

"I am very pregnant," Jamie Fox said Wednesday. "I'm about six and a half months along."

In the final trimester of her pregnancy, Fox will be taking time off from caring for her 23 horses, leaving Greg to handle them. Not that he is a newcomer to the barn. A licensed vet, he has worked together with Jamie for the past several years on the farm they own next to the Thoroughbred Center near Lexington.

Both Jinny's Gold and Lady Dynasty were formerly trained by Dale Romans before they joined Fox. Jinny's Gold, who has run well on both turf and dirt, has experience over the Turfway track, having been second in the Wishing Well Stakes at Turfway in January.

Lady Dynasty is an up-and-comer. She won her most recent start, a six-furlong allowance at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 25, leading from start to finish and running an 85 Beyer Speed Figure.

In the Bourbonette she stretches out to a mile, a distance at which she performed poorly at Monmouth last summer in her only two-turn attempt.

"This race is a big step up for her, and I still have some distance concerns," Jamie Fox said.

Synthetic surface still a possibility

Turfway president Bob Elliston said he planned to attend a meeting Friday at Keeneland to get an update on proposed engineering plans and costs regarding the possible replacement of the Turfway racing surface.

Turfway is seriously considering replacing its surface with the synthetic material that Keeneland installed on its five-furlong training track last fall. Elliston said an announcement of Turfway's decision probably would come around opening day at Keeneland.

The Turfway winter-spring meet is perennially plagued with weather-related cancellations, which has led officials to consider the major overhaul. The weather-resistant synthetic track has been getting rave reviews this winter at Keeneland, which is a co-owner and managing partner of Turfway.

Not a local to be found

With five shippers from south Florida, and two each from New York and Southern California, this is the first Lane's End since 1997 without local representation.

Although local horses haven't won the race with regularity since the early 1980's - Perfect Drift in 2002 being a notable exception - usually one or more longshots enter the race.

"I can't remember the last time we didn't have at least one," said longtime racing secretary Rick Leigh.

One of the favorites for Saturday, Magna Graduate, had his most recent prep in the March 5 Battaglia Memorial here, but the colt spent most of the winter in south Florida with Pat Byrne.

Kentucky Media to present awards

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Media will present its 2004 awards between races Saturday. The annual awards are based on most wins at Kentucky tracks in the calendar year.

The winners are Ken and Sarah Ramsey for top owner (46 wins), Steve Asmussen for top trainer (83), and Rafael Bejarano for top jockey (406). Both Asmussen and Bejarano led the nation in wins last year with 555 and 455, respectively.

* Unlike with any of its other racing programs, Turfway will offer rolling daily doubles throughout the Lane's End card. And, as usual, there will be superfecta wagering on every race.

- additional reporting by Byron King