05/16/2005 11:00PM

Prep time for Open Mind prospects

Bob Holthus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Tuesday was a busy morning at Churchill Downs, with three Preakness hopefuls - Giacomo, High Fly, and Wilko - turning in their final workouts before leaving for Baltimore. The scene was no less active for those preparing to race at Churchill Downs this Saturday.

With Saturday's feature, the $100,000 Open Mind, being a five-furlong grass race, numerous horsemen chose to breeze their horses over the local course in preparation. With pylons placed in the middle of the turf to protect the inner portion of the course, Open Mind nominees Angel Trumpet, Cherokee Eyes, Isabell's Shoes, and Megascape worked over the grass.

Angel Trumpet, winner of the Gowell Stakes last year, worked the fastest of the quartet, breezing a half-mile in 50.20 seconds over a firm course. Cherokee Eyes and Isabell's Shoes went the same distance in 50.60 and 51.60, respectively. Churchill Downs clockers had Megascape going three furlongs in 40.60 seconds.

A small to medium-sized field is expected for the Open Mind, a race for 3-year-old fillies. Donnie Richardson, Churchill's senior vice president of racing, considers six fillies to be probable starters: Angel Trumpet, Dianne's Debut, Flying Circle, Isabell's Shoes, Little Hussy, and Trieste's Destiny. Cherokee Eyes and Megascape are possible.

Competition from Pimlico for stakes runners during Preakness week is one of the reasons for the relatively short field, he said.

Howard stakes trio works

Trainer Neil Howard sent out three recent graded stakes winners for works on Tuesday.

Grade 1 Woodford Reserve winner America Alive, under consideration for the June 11 Manhattan at Belmont or the July 4 Firecracker Handicap here, went an easy half-mile on the turf course in 51.40 seconds.

Shadow Cast, winner of the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup, covered three furlongs on the main track in 36.40 over a fast surface.

Grade 3 Ben Ali Handicap winner Alumni Hall breezed a half-mile on the main track in 47.80 seconds.

Holthus fine after pacemaker is implanted

Trainer Bob Holthus had a defibrillator and pacemaker implanted Monday and is feeling well, said Debbie Holthus, the trainer's daughter.

She said the operation was routine, requiring about 30 minutes.

"He just needed a little help," she said.

A defibrillator is used in patients with cardiac problems. It monitors the heart and maintains its rhythm with electrical shocks.

Debbie Holthus expects her father, 70, to return to work on the Churchill Downs backstretch within a couple of days.

Holthus is in the midst of a successful year, with his horses winning 27 of 184 races and more than $1.1 million. Heading into Wednesday's races, he was tied for second in the Churchill trainer standings behind leader Steve Asmussen, having won with 5 of 22 starters.

Holthus had his fourth Kentucky Derby starter this year, Greater Good, who ran 13th behind Giacomo. He previously ran Our Trade Winds (13th in 1972), Proper Reality (fourth in 1988), and Pro Prado (13th in 2004).

Magna Graduate now with Pletcher

Magna Graduate, fourth in the Lone Star Derby last Saturday, has been transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher by owner Elisabeth Alexander, former trainer Pat Byrne said Tuesday.

A 3-year-old son of Honor Grades, Magna Graduate won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in March and ran competitively in graded stakes, including a third to Greeley's Galaxy in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne on April 9.

Magna Graduate began his career with trainer Gary Simms and owner Burr Travis, showing promise while winning one of three starts. Following a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile for Simms, Byrne said he recommended the purchase of Magna Graduate.

Medigating switches to turf

Medigating, a soundly beaten seventh in the Illinois Derby last month, should appreciate a class drop and a return to turf racing in Thursday's ninth race, a $53,300 two-other-than allowance at 1 1/8 miles on grass.

A 3-year-old son of Dolphin Street, Medigating proved unable to keep pace with the better 3-year-old dirt horses in the country this spring after a runner-up finish in the off-the-turf Black Gold Handicap at Fair Grounds on Jan. 29.

He faced eventual Kentucky Derby starters in each of his last two races. Greeley's Galaxy defeated him in the Illinois Derby, which followed a 7 1/4-length loss to Sun King when fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Trainer Niall O'Callaghan has named Larry Melancon to ride Medigating, a two-time winner on turf in France last year.

Medigating's ability to handle 1 1/8 miles remains a question. He faded in his one attempt at the distance when fifth in the Tropical Park Derby, his first start in this country.

Farnum Alley, second in a similar race April 30, and Diplomatic Agent, a first-level allowance winner at Keeneland on April 28, head the opposition. Other contenders include Third Day, Chatham Straight, and Fifth Edition.