02/17/2005 1:00AM

Private Horde's itchy to run now


The day after Private Horde easily won the Feb. 4 Forego Stakes at Turfway Park, trainer Joe Cain said he was inclined to wait until April to run his stable star again.

But less than two weeks later, Cain was having a difficult time keeping from trying to do too much. Stabled on Cain's farm in the southern Kentucky town of Russell Springs, Private Horde, Cain said, "has been training as good as he ever has."

So Cain and owner Billy Ray Tucker decided that entering Private Horde in the $50,000 Dust Commander Stakes was a logical move. The Dust Commander, on Saturday at Turfway in Florence, Ky., is a one-mile race, and Private Horde, 6, has earned the vast majority of his $666,767 bankroll in sprints.

But, Cain said, "he's run well in races just a little shorter than a mile. And besides, this is going to be a weaker field than most of his other races."

Indeed, Private Horde appears to bring a decided class edge into the Dust Commander. He is a Grade 2 winner, having captured the 2003 Vanderbilt at Saratoga, and was deemed good enough to run in that year's Breeders' Cup Sprint. Also, he has shown a fondness for Turfway. In 12 starts at Turfway, Private Horde has 7 wins and 2 seconds.

"No doubt he likes it up there," said Cain.

After the Dust Commander, the next start for Private Horde most likely will be the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland or the Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park, both in mid-April, Cain said.

Private Horde, who will break from post 7 with Rodney Prescott aboard, will face eight other older horses in the Dust Commander. Foremost among his opponents are Bonus Pack, with Dean Sarvis to ride, and the Bernie Flint-trained entry of Ask the Lord and Paging.

Bonus Pack, trained by Greg Foley, was second in his last start, a Jan. 14 overnight handicap at Turfway. Ask the Lord and Paging each have won three times over the track, including recent back-to-back wins by Paging, who will start from the rail Saturday.

The Dust Commander, named for the 1970 Kentucky Derby winner, is the 10th of 12 races on a Saturday card that starts at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

Also on the card is a $25,400 allowance sprint for 3-year-olds (race 8).