06/16/2006 12:00AM

Pyrana on a path to stakes


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - While maintaining a string of 24 horses some 90 minutes north of here at Turfway Park, Patrick Biancone hasn't run a whole lot of horses at the Churchill Downs spring meet. But when he has, Biancone has been extremely live, as evidenced by his 7 wins from just 16 starters.

Biancone has spent most of the last two months with his other string of horses at Saratoga, but he was scheduled to be at Churchill this weekend to saddle Lady of Venice and Louve Royale on Saturday's Stephen Foster card. He also planned to stick around to run Pyrana as a main contender in the Sunday feature, a $62,000 third-level turf allowance.

Pyrana, like so many of the Biancone runners, is a French import who did not take long to make a favorable impression in this country. In her United States debut on June 4 at Churchill, Pyrana rallied from last to win a second-level turf allowance as the favorite.

"She ran very well last time," Biancone said Friday from Turfway. "We are giving her one more experience before we try stakes horses."

Biancone, now 54, gained worldwide acclaim at a young age when he trained All Along to win the 1983 Horse of the Year title. But to younger fans who have watched apprentice Julien Leparoux develop into a riding star, Biancone has become better known as the man who brought Leparoux around. Leparoux, the leading jockey in wins in North America this year, has the mount on Pyrana.

Pyrana, who drew post 2 in the 1 1/8-mile feature, is one of 10 fillies and mares entered in the eighth of 10 Sunday races. Aimer and Soul Search, both recent winners, appear to be her chief threats.

Two other allowances also are carded for Sunday: a $54,000 first-level route (race 7), and a $58,000 second-level sprint (race 9).

In the seventh, Leo's Pegasus and Cryptoquip figure to take their share of action in a well-matched field of seven 3-year-old fillies. In the ninth, Morner, with Rafael Bejarano riding for trainer David Vance, will try making it two in a row after recently going through her first condition as a heavy favorite.

After Sunday, Churchill goes dark for two days before live action resumes Wednesday. There are no graded or listed stakes scheduled for next weekend, and, in fact, the next major Churchill stakes is the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup on July 1.