07/05/2001 11:00PM

A pocketful of memories lingers at meeting's end

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the curtain falls on another spring meet at Churchill Downs, here are a few of the most memorable things:

Most disconcerting defeat: Considering what followed in the Preakness and Belmont, people will be talking for many years about the mystery of Point Given's fifth-place finish in the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

Biggest controversy: Critics are still taking swipes at the track condition on Derby Day, when record after near-record was set on dirt.

Top performer (human): Does Pat Day ever age? Day, 47, again dominated the jockeys' race as much as ever. His 8,000th career win on May 31 aboard Camden Park was a genuine meet highlight.

Top performer (equine): Close between Saudi Poetry (two graded stakes wins); Leelanau (two sharp wins); Bet on Sunshine (ran nearly a life's-best at age 9); Casual Feat, Evelite, Hawkahontas, and Cashier's Dream (two big-priced upsets apiece); Meetyouathebrig (his Derby Trial was monstrous); and Mon-archos (the Derby is always huge).

Most astute prediction: Trainer Dale Romans coolly stated that his stable would make a stern bid for his first solo Churchill title. On Sunday, Romans is virtually emptying the barn: He has 10 horses entered in an all-out attempt to defeat Bernie Flint and Elliott Walden. Entering Friday's card, Flint led the standings with 20 wins, one more than Romans, and two more than Walden.

Most fleeting appearance: Apprentice rider Kris Prather returned from a 2 1/2-month layoff June 6, then was sidelined again eight days later with a shoulder injury.

Most intertwined stretch duel: On June 27, Sniffy, claimed from Romans by Tom Amoss, narrowly defeated Kya, claimed from Amoss by Romans.

Saddest story (human): Lead outrider Glenn Webster, 43, died two days after he collapsed from a heart attack on Kentucky Oaks Day. The memorial service for Webster, attended by 500-plus friends and family, was a touching tribute.

Saddest story (equine): The breakdown of the maiden Frisco Bay on Father's Day was among the most gruesome anyone will ever witness.

Outofthebox runs third

Outofthebox, runner-up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and Florida Derby earlier this year, finished third Thursday as the odds-on favorite in his first start since being injured in the April 7 Flamingo Stakes.

The colt had "had only three breezes coming into the race," said his trainer, Bernie Flint.

"He still has heart. Sometimes when you're bringing one back off an injury, it's more important to see them actively get out there and participate. He did, and I like that."

The 1 1/16-mile allowance was won by Fajardo, a 4-year-old trained by Bill Mott.

* The new Central Ave. overpass on the southeast side of the track near Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is being renamed "Denny Crum Overpass," in honor of the former University of Louisville basketball coach. Crum posted his first Churchill stakes win as an owner at this meet when Nasty Storm, a filly he owns in partnership, won the May 26 Dogwood Stakes.