02/15/2008 1:00AM

Radcliffe revels in allowance win

Email

When Purely Wild captured a second-level allowance race Thursday at Turfway Park, he gave his trainer his biggest thrill in a lifetime on the racetrack.

Bobby Radcliffe, 45, is the trainer of Purely Wild, and if it weren't for the game of horse racing, Radcliffe has no idea where life might have led him. Radcliffe was born and raised in the Clarksdale projects, one of the most poverty-ravaged neighborhoods in Louisville, Ky., and yet he still calls himself "probably the luckiest guy on the backside" while trying to parlay a four-horse stable into a decent living.

"I rub and ride my own horses, and I go back every night to water off," said Radcliffe, who is based at the Trackside training center in Louisville. "I pretty much do everything myself. I've done a lot of hard work in my life, and it's what's paid off for me. Really, I'm just lucky."

Radcliffe began his racing career as an exercise rider while still in high school, graduating in 1981. Since then, he has always worked on racetrack backstretches, primarily in Kentucky, although he also held down a job with a printing company for much of the 1980s. He trained a small stable, winning four races, during a three-year stint on his own in the early 1990s, and after working for other trainers for about 13 years, he went out on his own again in 2006 at the urging of Louisville attorney John Berry, who co-owns two horses in his stable, including Purely Wild. Since going solo again, Radcliffe had sent out 7 winners from 31 starts before Purely Wild gave him his richest career victory in winning a $26,000 allowance Thursday.

Radcliffe credits the late trainer Danny Hutt - for whom he worked for about 10 years, until Hutt died suddenly in May 2004 - as being the most instrumental person in his life and career.

"I try to be just like Danny," Radcliffe said. "He was the greatest man I ever knew. He was always good to me. I never would've had another job if he hadn't died."

Purely Wild, a 5-year-old gelding by Wild Again, was claimed by Berry and Steve Turner from a $16,000 race in October at Keeneland.

"We won a six-way shake for him that day, so we got lucky there," Radcliffe said.

In six starts for his new connections, Purely Wild has 2 wins and 3 seconds, and now Radcliffe has fixed his sights on something grand: the Tejano Run, a 1 1/8-mile race on March 15 at Turfway.

"I told John after we claimed him that he was the best horse I'd ever had, and the horse is proving me right," Radcliffe said. "He ran awful big the other day, and I couldn't be happier."

Big Glen targeting Battaglia

Big Glen, an impressive winner of the Feb. 2 WEBN Stakes, is being pointed to the next race in Turfway's stakes series for 3-year-olds, the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial on March 1.

Trainer Frank Brothers said Friday from south Florida that Big Glen was sent to the Skylight training center near Louisville following his WEBN victory and is under the care of Tom Drury. Big Glen had trained at Palm Meadows before shipping north.

"The Battaglia looks like a logical spot, although we could wait for the Rushaway" on March 22, Brothers said.

Big Glen, who was extremely wide on both turns in winning the WEBN, "is a hard-trying little horse," Brother said. "He's won three races now at Turfway, and I didn't think he'd want to face some of the horses running down here in Florida, so it's all shaken out pretty well for him so far."

Jockey, trainer standings still close

Both the jockey and trainer races are being closely contested this winter at Turfway in Florence, Ky. Into Friday night action, Victor Lebron held a tenuous lead atop the jockey standings with 32 winners, followed by John McKee and Tommy Pompell with 30 each.

Among trainers, Paul McGee and Kim Hammond were tied with 9 wins each, with Speedy Smithwick next with 8.

* Nominations will close soon for several important stakes at Turfway and Keeneland. The Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway closes Wednesday, as do two Grade 1 races at the Keeneland spring meet: the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes, to be run April 5, and the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, set for April 12.

* The Sunday feature at Turfway is a $26,600 second-level allowance race at a mile on Polytrack. Promise Me a Prize, a winner in her last 3 races, and 5 of her last 6, looks like a deserving favorite for trainer Bill Connelly in a field of seven fillies and mares. A nine-race card starts at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

* Ten races have been carded for Monday, which normally is a dark day at Turfway. The track is making up for several cancellations by conducting racing on two Mondays: this coming Monday, Presidents Day, and March 17, St. Patrick's Day.