09/23/2001 12:00AM

Perseverance pays off for Chorwon


FRANKLIN, Ky. - Six years is a long time for a horse to persevere through a racing career.

But six years in the same barn while maintaining stakes-caliber form is even more rare, which is a major reason why trainer Hal Wiggins was so emotional Sunday after Chorwon posted a five-length triumph in the $300,000 Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky.

Hugs, tears and handshakes abounded for Wiggins and his wife, Renee, after Chorwon went over the $1.1 million earnings mark by winning the Grade 3 Turf.

The Knight Sky, who led throughout and turned back several bids before Chorwon flew past him, held second, another length ahead of Man From Wicklow.

Jon Court rode Chorwon, who returned a generous $14.80 to win as co-fourth choice in a field of seven older horses.

"I got through just when I needed to," said Court. "It was a really great win for Hal."

Almost unbelievably, the 1 1/2-mile Turf, the pinnacle of the four-race Kentucky Cup grass series at Kentucky Downs, was the first graded stakes win for Chorwon. An 8-year-old gray gelding who has won 13 races from 40 starts, Chorwon won three straight runnings of the Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, where he is based.

Chorwon, by Cozzene out of Nomo Robbery, was bred by the late Thomas Mueller, who would have been 74 on Sunday. Chorwon now races in the green-and-white silks of Mueller's widow, Phoebe, who was not present. Nomo Robbery also produced stakes winners Yukon Robbery and Kumhwa.

After Man From Wicklow came Kim Loves Bucky, Gritty Sandie, Three Wonders and Profit Option. Gritty Sandie, invading from New York, was the even-money favorite.

The Knight Sky, ridden by Eddie Martin Jr., "was just second best," said trainer Chuck Simon. "He ran about as well as he can."

Wiggins said he was unsure about the next start for Chorwon, who finished in 2:28.68 over a firm course.

*Minor Wisdom went virtually head-to-head from the start with Cocktails and Lies before eking out a head victory in the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Mile, reversing a tough beat in the same race last year.

Robby Albarado was aboard Minor Wisdom ($6.40), an Illinois-bred 5-year-old trained by Chicago-based Richie Scherer. Last year, Minor Wisdom was on the losing end of a photo to Glick in the Mile.

Minor Wisdom, the slight favorite, posted his first win in four starts this year by finishing in 1:37.68.

"I wanted to build his heart back up, so I haven't really thought that far ahead," said Scherer, although the Breeders' Cup Mile is not a consideration.

Cocktails and Lies, ridden by Pat Day, completed a $30.20 exacta. Promise of War finished third in a field of seven.

*Trainer Elliott Walden continued his domination of the $100,000 Ladies Turf when heavily favored Gino's Spirits, ridden by Day, drew off from front-running Please Sign In to prevail by two lengths after stalking the pace the whole way.

Walden is the only trainer to ever win the Ladies, having won in 1998-99 with Pleasant Temper and last year with Silken. He said one primary reason for his success in the one-mile race is that "I train for a lot of breeders, and this is a good spot for them to get black type."

Gino's Spirits, an English-bred owned by Tom Van Meter and the Rio Aventura Stable, paid $3.40 after finishing one mile in 1:39.16. The 1-4 exacta paid $12.60.

Tabadabado, Star Queen and Mumtaz completed the order.

*Kenny Hoffman is a throwback to the old days, when trainers hauled their horses in their own trailer. Hoffman lives in Ocala, Fla., but spends just as much time in his van, traveling the country.

For Hoffman, Sunday resulted in a memorable trip, as Amazon River upset the $100,000 Turf Dash at a $74.60 win mutuel. Albarado was aboard the 3-year-old River Special colt.

"I tried selling him early this year," said Hoffman, who also owns the colt. "But the deal fell through, and I ended up freshening him up and making him a sprinter."

Three years ago, Hoffman won the first-ever Kentucky Cup turf race with G H's Pleasure in the Turf Dash.

Amazon River led all the way to win by 1 1/2 lengths over One By the Knows, finishing six furlongs in 1:11.34. El Basque was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third, while Fantastic Finish, the 13-10 favorite for Walden, was fourth.