03/21/2007 11:00PM

Pitts likes her chances


FLORENCE, Ky. - Since 1998, when Event of the Year won the Lane's End Stakes (still known then as the Jim Beam) as an odds-on choice, not a single favorite has won the Turfway Park showcase.

That trend of unpredictability is partly what encourages trainers such as Helen Pitts to send a horse to the Lane's End - especially when the trainer believes he or she has a 3-year-old with enough talent and potential to pull off the latest upset. Pitts has sent an El Corredor colt named For You Reppo, a one-time winner, to the Lane's End off a solid runner-up effort in a March 3 allowance route at Gulfstream Park.

For You Reppo has improved in the Beyer Speed Figure department in each of his four starts, having earned a 90 in his last race. Pitts said she has been very pleased with the way the colt has progressed, and with Kent Desormeaux riding Saturday, For You Reppo figures as a live longshot in the full field of 3-year-olds.

For You Reppo is "real big, and he's the type of horse that the further he goes, the better he gets," said Pitts.

"The more warmed up he gets, the better he gets, the stronger he gets," she said. "He's just kind of always been that way. He's got the turn of foot, and at the same time he's got the stamina to be able to get the distance."

A mild upset by For You Reppo would be a far cry from the 48-1 stunner pulled by With a City last year in the Lane's End, but it might be the fifth straight year for a winner at double-digit odds. Before With a City, those other pricey winners were Flower Alley (10-1) in 2005, Sinister G (16-1) in 2004, and New York Hero (14-1) in 2003.

Leading trainer not pushing it

Some trainers have been known to "empty the barn," or run much of the stable, when in contention to become leading trainer near the end of a meet. Paul McGee is avoiding that temptation.

McGee, who through Wednesday led the Turfway Park standings by a 16-13 margin over Kim Hammond, said he expects to run horses sparingly over the final couple weeks of the Turfway meet, which ends April 5. This Saturday, on Lane's End Day, he will run a single horse, Dubious Miss, who will be making his stakes debut in the Rushaway Stakes.

McGee had hoped to have more starters. He said he wanted to run 11 horses at Turfway on Saturday, but entered only Dubious Miss, saying circumstances were not right for the other 10 for one reason or another.

That decision in itself is an endorsement for Dubious Miss, an EoDubai colt, suggesting the horse is doing exceptionally well.

Not that Dubious Miss needs many endorsements beyond his form. He has won both of his starts, including an allowance race March 3 at Turfway, a route race he won by a neck with a wide trip.

"It was big race, for sure," McGee said. "Also, him coming out the 10 hole going a mile - that's not good at Turfway."

Facing established stakes horses such as Dominican and Reata's Rocket in the Rushaway, Dubious Miss needs a top effort to win. But in contrast to his last start, he is well drawn in post 2.

Looking beyond Saturday's Rushaway, "I would very much like to be leading trainer," said McGee, whose only training title came when he tied Terry Dunleavy at Kentucky Downs in 1998. "That said, I'm not going to run horses out of line to do it."

Springtime relief underfoot

Just a little more than a month ago, the burning issue at Turfway focused on how the Polytrack surface was "balling up" in horses' hooves, causing problems for horsemen and leading to a cancellation on at least one occasion.

But as winter has turned to spring, the problems with Polytrack have disappeared, said Marty Maline, executive director of the local division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

"When it got below freezing, it really became a major source of frustration for everyone," said Maline. "Obviously it's something that's going to have to be addressed before next winter."

Biancone out in force at Keeneland

Patrick Biancone has nearly overrun the Keeneland backstretch in recent days, having consolidated his entire 72-horse stable at the Lexington, Ky., track, where he soon will defend the training title he won last fall when Polytrack was first used as the main racing surface. The 15-day Keeneland spring meet begins April 6.

Biancone recently had his main string of horses shipped to Keeneland from Southern California. All of his horses that wintered at Turfway also were put on the short van ride down Interstate 75 to Keeneland.

* Between races Saturday, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Media will present its annual awards to horsemen with the most wins in Kentucky in 2006. Those awards will go to owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, trainer Dale Romans, and jockey Julien Leparoux.

- additional reporting by Byron King