06/27/2005 11:00PM

Prize Story the one off last two

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A whole new world opened to Prize Story this spring at Churchill Downs. After pretty much spinning his wheels for most of his career on dirt, a move to turf has transformed the 5-year-old gelding into a potential standout on the green.

In the first 24 starts of his career, raced just once on grass, finishing a close second last August at Ellis Park. But after giving his stable star a winter break, trainer Bill Ford was intent on getting him back on grass - and that plan has worked to perfection so far as Prize Story has run smashing back-to-back victories in two appearances at the spring meet.

Off those impressive wins, Prize Story figures as the horse to beat in the Thursday feature at Churchill, a $53,300, second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Owned by Ford's longtime client, Robert Mondun, Prize Story will be ridden again by Bill Troilo when he breaks from post 2 in a field that will have a maximum of 10 starters.

In his May 15 return to action, Prize Story was dismissed at 17-1 when spotted for $40,000 claiming, but he came rolling home with a 3 3/4-length victory and a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. He got much more respect when sent away an odds-on choice in his lone subsequent start, a June 10 starter allowance, and he turned in another terrific effort, romping by 4 3/4 lengths and getting a 96 Beyer.

Prize Story was sired by Prized, the 1989 Breeders' Cup Turf winner, and Ford had meant to run the gelding more frequently on grass. But two of his scheduled turf races were rained out last fall, and it was not until recently that Prize Story was able to get back on grass.

If Prize Story is to be denied a spring-meet three-peat, it could be by , a 5-year-old who will be making his first start in slightly over a year. Trained by Wally Dollase, Salcombe was a twice-beaten odds-on choice at this level here last spring before going on his lengthy hiatus.

The Thursday feature, the lone allowance race of the day, stood the possibility of being part of a huge pick six. There was a carryover of $104,494 going into Wednesday's card.