05/03/2007 12:00AM

'Price' seems right in Distaff


Price Tag had the look of another star turf filly for trainer Bobby Frankel when she won the Grade 1 Matriarch in her U.S. debut last fall. She did nothing to dispel that theory when she easily won a third-level allowance race in March at Santa Anita.

Price Tag returns to stakes company Saturday against six rivals in the Grade 3, $150,000 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile.

Price Tag, bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, got an ideal prep with an easy one-length allowance win at Santa Anita on March 16. She has been training sensationally over Keeneland's Polytrack.

"She won that race very easily," Frankel said. "She's very easy to ride, it doesn't matter where you place her. She breezed a little too quick the other day. Hopefully, it's not too much. She's not over-raced and I didn't over-train her going into those last two works."

Lady of Venice, who won the Grade 3 Regret over this course last summer, went a little sour on trainer Patrick Biancone last summer at Saratoga. After running second to Wait a While in the Lake George at Saratoga in August, she was given the remainder of the year off. Lady of Venice returned with a sharp allowance win at Keeneland on April 22.

"We wanted to keep her as a

4-year-old so we decided to give her a break," Biancone said. "She's doing good, and she had a good prep race the other day. She was a bit fresh, so we were happy to get a race into her to take away that freshness."

Magnificent Song finished second to Lady of Venice in the Regret and came back to win the Grade 3 Lake George and Grade 1 Garden City. This will be her first start since finishing sixth in the Queen Elizabeth last fall at Keeneland.

Quite a Bride could offer value as the main speed in this field for trainer Bill Mott. Take the Ribbon, Rich Fantasy, and Culpeper Moon complete the field.

Churchill Downs Cap: In or out?

When entries for the Oaks and Derby cards were drawn earlier this week, a couple of cross-entries figured to substantially affect the complexion of the Alysheba Stakes on Friday and the Churchill Downs Handicap on Saturday.

Half Ours, unbeaten in five career starts, and Wanderin Boy, a multiple graded stakes winner, were entered in both races, and as of Thursday morning, their trainers said they had not yet decided in which race their horses would actually run.

"Not sure yet," said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Half Ours.

"I've still got time, don't I?" said Nick Zito, trainer of Wanderin Boy.

Because both horses are exceptionally fast, their participation or absence figures to affect the pace of the Grade 2, $250,000 Churchill Downs Cap. Half Ours, whose stakes scores include the now-defunct Three Chimneys Juvenile on the 2005 Derby Day undercard, has past-performance lines replete with 1s, while Wanderin Boy, an earner of more than $650,000 from 15 starts, has regularly shown heels when pitted against world-class competition, including Invasor and Bernardini.

Besides those two, the seven-furlong CD Cap drew some other interesting entrants. Istan, trained by Bill Mott, enters off back-to-back stakes wins, most recently earning a 107 Beyer Speed Figure in the April 7 Artax Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Ah Day, a Maryland shipper with nearly $600,000 in earnings, owns a highly effective closing kick that would be well-suited to all the speed staying in the race. And Saint Anddan and Moon's Halo both enter off lifetime-high Beyers of 102 and 100, respectively.

The balance of the field of nine older horses is Will He Shine, Cougar Cat, and Junior College.

The CD Cap, which dates to 1911 and has been won by such standouts as Pleasant Tap (1992), Distorted Humor (1998), and Speightstown (2004), is carded as the fifth of 12 races on the card.

- Marty McGee

La Troeinne: 'Zophie,' Total head field

Had things gone differently two months ago at Fair Grounds, both Appealing Zophie and Total might have been running Friday at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Oaks instead of Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 La Troienne Stakes.

But both 3-year-old fillies flopped in the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 10, forcing their trainers to alter course. They each were freshened and are moving back to a one-turn race, factors that should help them produce their better form from earlier in the year.

Nine others are entered against Appealing Zophie and Total in the 7 1/2-furlong La Troienne, the seventh race Saturday, including Silverinyourpocket, who is returning to a conventional dirt surface after two subpar races on Polytrack.

Appealing Zophie is the most accomplished runner in the field. She won the Spinaway Stakes last year at Saratoga, the place trainer Steve Asmussen said he wants to return to this summer with Appealing Zophie. The La Troienne is the first step back following a last-place finish among eight in the Fair Grounds Oaks. John Velazquez remains aboard.

"Johnny thought she choked down, and he took care of her," Asmussen said Thursday morning. "We did a myectomy, and got her off the Oaks trail. We want to try to win the Test. Hopefully, this is a way to get her back to the winner's circle."

Total, like Appealing Zophie, stopped badly in the Fair Grounds Oaks, finishing seventh, 34 3/4 lengths behind. She was second to Appealing Zophie in the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds. Prior to that, Total won three straight sprinting.

"She and Appealing Zophie went around there together and shut down when their sprint pedigrees came out," said Al Stall Jr., the trainer of Total. Jockey Jesse Campbell, he said, "took care of her."

"Back at the barn," Stall said, "she was bucking and kicking. She'd had kind of a tough campaign, so we gave her time. She trained well at Churchill last fall, even though she didn't run here."

- Jay Privman