06/16/2004 12:00AM

'Preachin' heads for revival


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Preachinatthebar, whose star has fallen amid the 3-year-old ranks since the colt became a classics candidate by winning the San Felipe Stakes in March, went through his second workout since undergoing a myectomy, breezing five furlongs Wednesday in 1:02.40 at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Bob Baffert, speaking from California, said he is hopeful the myectomy will help Preachinatthebar reverse his poor recent form. Owned by Mike Pegram, Preachinatthebar likely will make his next start in the July 2 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows.

"He's doing really well, and we're hoping the operation helps him out there," Baffert said.

Preachinatthebar, one of 17 Baffert horses at Churchill, finished seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes in April, then fifth as the favorite in the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard on May 15 at Pimlico. The gray colt then underwent the myectomy, a common and relatively minor procedure that involves the removal of a small portion of a throat muscle to help the movement of a horse's soft palate and assist breathing. The surgery normally requires only about four or five days of down time.

Perfect Drift also has throat surgery

Speaking of myectomies, Perfect Drift, the 5-year-old gelding who finished third as the defending champion last weekend in the Stephen Foster Handicap, also underwent one Tuesday, said trainer Murray Johnson.

"That explains a little bit why he ran the way he did," said Johnson, who is based at Louisville Trackside. "We think everything should work out real good."

Johnson said he has not decided on a next start for Perfect Drift, although last year after winning the Foster, the gelding won the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington. That $350,000 race is set for July 31.

Hard Buck points to Stars and Stripes

Hard Buck, second as the favorite in the inaugural Opening Verse Stakes on Saturday, is on target for the July 4 Stars and Stripes Handicap, said trainer Ken McPeek.

In other news from the McPeek barn:

* Sister Star, upset winner of the Regret, will run next in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood on July 3.

* Prince Arch, winner of the Jefferson Cup, will have a rematch with rival Kitten's Joy in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 10, the same day that Galloping Gal, second in the Dogwood, will run in the Virginia Oaks.

* Best Minister, well beaten in the Stephen Foster, may wait for a third-level allowance at the Saratoga meet, which starts July 28.

* J Town, second in the Northern Dancer, goes next in the Iowa Derby.

Fire Slam may face elders at Ellis

Fire Slam, who has developed into one of the nation's top 3-year-old sprinters after winning the Matt Winn and Riva Ridge in his last two starts, may run next against older horses in the July 24 Don Bernhardt at Ellis Park, said trainer David Carroll.

Because Fire Slam is being pointed to the Aug. 28 King's Bishop at Saratoga, the timing of the Bernhardt is preferable to the Aug. 7 Amsterdam at Saratoga, Carroll said.

Beau's Town tops in weight for Aristides

A field of about six older horses is expected Saturday at Churchill for the $150,000 Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap. With weight assignments, the prospects for the six-furlong race are Beau's Town, 121 pounds; Champali, 116; Cloud Walker, 115; Mountain General, 115; Battle Won, 114; and Great Notion, 114.

The Saturday program will coincide with Churchill's annual Summer Music Celebration, a daylong infield concert series capped by a 90-minute show by Hootie and the Blowfish. The Hootie show begins at 6 p.m. Eastern. Tickets to the concert are separate from general admission.

* Nominations are out for the lone feature to be run here next weekend, the $150,000 Locust Grove Handicap on June 26. Weights for the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares will be released Saturday.

* Mike Gentile, a longtime racegoer at Churchill, died Tuesday from chronic heart problems. Gentile, an accountant who rarely missed a day of racing, was 60.

* Stall applications for the September fall meet at Turfway Park are being accepted by racing secretary Rick Leigh.