05/24/2002 11:00PM

Posse can prove debut not a fluke


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Such was the power of his career debut that Posse was bet down to 3-5 in the Three Chimneys Juvenile, a Kentucky Derby Day sidelight that perennially attracts a gaggle of impressive maiden winners from near and far.

Alas, Posse could manage no better than a third-place finish in the field of 13 in the Three Chimneys, finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind the victorious filly, Holiday Runner. But when Posse returns to action on Monday in the $150,000 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs, there is a distinct likelihood that the colt will make amends.

Posse will face seven other 2-year-olds in the Kentucky BC, a Grade 3 race contested at 5 1/2 furlongs. Two other runners from the Three Chimneys, Lord Rambo and Del Diablo, figure to vie for second choice in the wagering, having finished fourth and fifth in the Derby Day fixture.

Posse has been a favorite of trainer Steve Asmussen's since the colt first stepped foot onto a racetrack. Owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Posse justified his trainer's faith when he won an April 10 maiden race at Keeneland by an eye-opening 13 1/2 lengths, an effort that clearly swayed more than a few horseplayers.

Lord Rambo, owned by Brian Dance and trained by Mike Trivigno, also was a sharp debut winner at Keeneland. He tracked the top flight in the Three Chimneys, and although he was unable to make late headway, he did hold his ground to finish respectably.

Del Diablo, owned by Terry Raymond and Gus Goldsmith, won a maiden race in his second career start. He is a Mecke colt who already has developed his sire's penchant for making a sustained late run.

The rest of the Kentucky BC field is Stardust Bertie, Vibs, Blackjack Boy, Good Time In' Man, and Southern Alert.

In 14 previous runnings of the Kentucky BC, fillies have won an amazing six times. But Holiday Runner, the Three Chimneys winner, was not entered because her owner, Steve Barberino, "is from New York, and he wants her to run there" in the June 6 Fashion Stakes, a $75,000 race restricted to fillies, said trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The 2001 winner was Leelanau, who set a track record by finishing in 1:03.11.

Two allowance races and the second leg of the Cutter Championships for starter-allowance sprinters also are carded Monday.

Because the Monday card occurs on what is normally a dark day, there will be no racing here Wednesday.