06/16/2008 12:00AM

Pitts liked Einstein's Foster finish


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Helen Pitts said she was proud of the effort that Einstein gave Saturday in the Stephen Foster Handicap when the horse got up in the final stride to get second from Barcola.

Pitts, the former trainer of the Foster winner, Curlin, said she believed Einstein "maybe could've finished even closer if the pace hadn't been so slow," referring to fractions of 25.01 seconds, 49.28, and 1:13.41, "but I think we were going to be second, regardless."

Einstein, owned wholly by Curlin's co-owner, Midnight Cry, is a multiple Grade 1 winner on grass, and Pitts is tickled that the 5-year-old Brazilian-bred had such a useful outing after being forced to miss the June 7 Manhattan at Belmont because of a licensing issue.

"I'd like to run him next in the Firecracker," a one-mile race July 4 on the Churchill turf, said Pitts. "Hopefully that would set him up perfectly for the Arlington Million."

Pyro may head for Dwyer

Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Curlin, said he was delighted with the victory by Pyro in the Northern Dancer Stakes, one of five graded races on the Foster undercard. Pyro got a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 in his 1 3/4-length triumph over My Pal Charlie.

Pyro, a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, might run next in the July 6 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont, followed by the Aug. 3 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, said Asmussen.

My Pal Charlie might run next in the Aug. 16 Prelude Stakes as a prep for the Sept. 20 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, said trainer Al Stall Jr.

Saturday winners to scatter

As for the other Saturday stakes winners: Hystericalady (99 Beyer Figure), winner of the Fleur de Lis, is scheduled to leave Wednesday to rejoin Jerry Hollendorfer's main string in northern California. Tizdejavu (96 Beyer), winner of the Jefferson Cup, probably will run next in the July 12 American Derby at Arlington, said trainer Greg Fox. Pure Clan (90 Beyer) goes next in the July 5 American Oaks at Hollywood Park. And Dreaming of Anna (94 Beyer) returned Sunday to rejoin Wayne Catalano's stable in Chicago.

Foster crowd a pleasant surprise

With 10 starters, the Foster had the biggest field of the six Saturday stakes. As the race approached, it appeared the Churchill racing office was having a major struggle finding opponents for Curlin. Asked what the odds might have been a few weeks ago that the Foster field would have been the biggest Saturday, Churchill president Steve Sexton smiled and said, "I don't know, maybe 99-1?"

Actually, the field of 11 entered in the Early Times Mint Julep initially was larger, but three scratches reduced it to eight.

Slim payout for pick six

The $48 payoff for a $2 pick six Saturday is believed to be a record low for a perfect ticket since Churchill began offering the bet in 1984. (The Churchill media guide lists only record high payoffs in the pick six, not record lows.)

What made the payoff appear even lower was that the $2 late pick four returned $69. The Saturday handle on the pick-six pool (races 6-11), not including a $3,852 carryover, was $123,087. The pick four (races 8-11) handled $269,771.

All winning horses were program favorites, although two were the second choice at post time: Recapturetheglory was favored over Pyro in the Northern Dancer, and Old Man Buck over Tizdejavu in the Jefferson Cup.

* Calvin Borel is scheduled to return to riding Friday after taking off his mounts on the Foster card because of a strained knee ligament suffered in a training mishap. Borel was given clearance Monday morning after being examined by orthopedic specialist Dr. Raymond Shea, said agent Jerry Hissam.

* With the Foster blowout in the rear-view mirror, only four stakes remain at the Churchill spring meet, including three on closing weekend, July 4-6. The next stakes to be run here is the $100,000 Debutante Stakes on June 28. The coming weekend will be the third of the meet without a stakes.

* Another round in the bi-weekly handicapping contest is set for Wednesday.