09/22/2005 12:00AM

Private Horde seeking to three-peat

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A wise man once said that a good horse can win "running up a tin roof or over broken glass," the point being that track conditions can be vastly overrated.

There is no arguing that , an earner of nearly $700,000, is a good horse, and although his sensational record (13 starts, 7 wins, 3 seconds) over the old Turfway Park surface might now be rendered largely irrelevant, it bears repeating that he is a good horse. So when Private Horde and eight other older horses make their debuts on the new Polytrack surface Saturday at Turfway, the list of deserving favorites must start with Private Horde.

The $75,000 Marfa Stakes is the race in question, and a victory by Private Horde would be noteworthy indeed. A 6-year-old bred and owned by Billy Ray Tucker, he has emerged as the winner of the Marfa in each of the last two years. Willie Martinez has been named by trainer Joe Cain to gun for a three-peat Saturday on Private Horde, who will break from post 8 in the 6 1/2-furlong race.

Among the most capable opposition is (post 1), a tough stretch-runner who won the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint here last fall with one of his patented late surges; Elusive Jazz (post 3), who ran second in his stakes debut, the Arlington Sprint, in his latest start; and Sterling Gold (post 5), winner of the Don Bernhardt in late July at Ellis Park.

The rest of the Marfa field is Esprit du Roi, Falcon's Peak, Korbyn Gold, With Distinction, and Deer Lake.

The Marfa, first run in 1986, is carded as the 13th of 16 races on Turfway's melded card with sister track Kentucky Downs.