05/25/2004 12:00AM

Quick-footed Glitter Act tries turf

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Like most handicappers and horsemen, trainer Dale Romans isn't quite sure whether the inner rails being set well out into the Churchill Downs turf course helps a speed horse or not.

"It sure seems to," said Romans. "Either that, or it's coincidence. They seem to carry their speed farther when those rails are up."

Generally, Churchill track superintendent Butch Lehr uses the turf rails during weekday programs, the better to preserve the inner portion of the course for weekends, when stakes and high-end allowance races are part of the busy turf schedule. Sometimes the rails are set out several lanes from the inner hedge, a configuration that lengthens the turns and shortens the straightaways.

Whether such a layout favors speed is a perennial topic of debate among Churchill players, but Romans knows one thing for sure: He hopes it helps Glitter Act, the filly he will saddle in the Thursday feature at Churchill. The race, the ninth of 10 on Thursday's card, marks the first on turf for Glitter Act, a 4-year-old filly with a high turn of foot.

"We're just trying to do something new with her, just experimenting," said Romans, who has won or shared the last four spring meet training titles at Churchill and once again leads the standings at this meet. "Obviously, we'd like to see if the turf moves her forward."

, with Robby Albarado to ride, drew post 4 in a field of 10 fillies and mares, including one main-track-only entrant. The $56,700, 1 1/16-mile race is run under primarily a third-level allowance condition.

Another filly trying to succeed while trying the grass for the first time is Clear Destiny, who will be ridden by Pat Day. , trained by Rusty Arnold, has been consistent in amassing over $186,000 in earnings. From 13 starts, Clear Destiny, a 5-year-old Deputy Minister mare, has finished worse than fourth just once while posting three wins and seven seconds.

Other logical contenders in a well-matched field include Sweet Deimos, Joyful Ballad, Daisyago, Kitty's Legend, and New Dreams.

Meet Me at Midnite will run only if the race is moved to the main track.

The ninth-race feature is the lone allowance on the Thursday card, which has the usual 1:15 p.m. Eastern first post.

Three stakes are on tap for this weekend at Churchill: the Early Times Mint Julep on Saturday, the Dogwood Breeders' Cup on Sunday, and the Louisville Handicap on Monday's Memorial Day card.