09/11/2002 12:00AM

Private Gold next in a line?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There are some big horseshoes to fill Saturday in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, but Pat Byrne believes he may have the horse to do the filling.

Byrne will send out Private Gold in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. The last two runnings of the Juvenile were won by Point Given - who was the Horse of the Year at 3 in 2001 - and by Repent, who is regarded as one of the top members of his class after being narrowly defeated last month in the Travers Stakes.

Private Gold, a Seeking the Gold colt who has won 2 of 3 starts, including the Ellis Park Juvenile last month, is one of about 10 2-year-olds expected for the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile, one of five races in the ninth annual Kentucky Cup series. Entries were to be drawn Thursday.

"I think there's every possibility there could be a good horse coming out of this race, including mine," Byrne said Wednesday at his Churchill Downs base. "This race has really become a good prep."

Private Gold, to be ridden by Pat Day, is the first horse Byrne has trained for Bob and Beverly Lewis, who share ownership in the colt with Mountaintop Racing, a syndicate headed by Ken Ellenberg. Byrne said he has always thought of Private Gold as a potential star.

"We've been looking forward to getting him around two turns," said Byrne. "He's a really nice colt. If he runs like we think he will Saturday, then the Breeders' Cup will be next for him."

Byrne, and most handicappers, believe that Vindication will pose the most serious challenge to Private Gold in the Grade 3 KC Juvenile. Vindication, a Seattle Slew colt owned by Padua Stables and trained by Bob Baffert, is unbeaten in two starts, both six-furlong races at Del Mar.

"Bob's horse has all the pedigree and flashiness to go with it," said Byrne. "Either one of our horses has the credentials to become a top horse."

Besides the two favorites, the Juvenile is expected to attract the lone supplementary entry of the series: Crowned King, a Louisiana Downs shipper trained by Billy McKeever. He has been made eligible for an additional $5,000 fee.

The Juvenile is part of a Saturday card that also will include the $400,000 KC Classic, the $200,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup, the $150,000 KC Sprint, and the $100,000 KC Juvenile Fillies. First post is noon Eastern.

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