04/30/2007 12:00AM

Rags to Riches gets a valuable lesson


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rags to Riches had such smooth sailing in winning back-to-back Grade 1 races at Santa Anita that trainer Todd Pletcher has felt compelled to give the Kentucky Oaks favorite some schooling in her morning training recently.

So when Rags to Riches, who will be a solid favorite Friday in the 133rd Oaks off dominant victories in the Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks, was out for her final prerace workout early Sunday over the Keeneland Polytrack, she was placed snugly inside of her Kentucky Derby-bound stablemate Circular Quay throughout a two-horse workout.

Both horses finished their five-furlong breezes in 1:00.20, and Pletcher was satisfied that Rags to Riches was being taught enough about potential adversity in the Oaks.

"She's been winning all her races on the outside, so we're schooling her here by putting her down on the inside," he said. "You can't get any dirt kickback here, but you can teach them about being in tight. This was some good education for her. The work will suit her well."

Rags to Riches, with Garrett Gomez to ride, is one of three Pletcher fillies in what is expected to be a full field of 14. Entries were scheduled to be taken Tuesday for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks.

The Oaks will lead off the annual Oaks-Derby Double, a two-day wager that Churchill has offered since 1996.

Pro Prado still plugging away

So this is where Derby also-rans go to finish out their careers - in mid-week races overshadowed by bigger upcoming events.

Pro Prado, 13th in the 2004 Derby at 53-1, is among a field of 10 horses entered in the Wednesday feature at Churchill, a six-furlong, $55,000 race carrying a third-level allowance and $80,000 claiming restriction. Pro Prado, now 6, long ago exhausted the allowance condition and is one of five horses eligible to be claimed.

"If somebody has the $80,000," trainer Bob Holthus said slyly, knowing he really has no say in the matter, "we're going to go ahead and let them have him."

Pro Prado will break from the rail in a field that also has Mr. Meso, Mt. Splendor, Reverential, and Edgerrin as plausible contenders.

Two stakes on Thursday card

The co-features on a 10-race Thursday card are a pair of five-furlong races: the $150,000 Kentucky Breeders' Cup (race 9), a Grade 3 race that drew nine 2-year-olds, and the $100,000 Mamzelle Stakes (race 8), which drew a field of eight filly and mare turf runners.

Steve Asmussen appears to have a strong hand in the Kentucky BC with the uncoupled duo of Rated Fiesty and Wonderful Luck, both winners in their debut at Keeneland. Although the race is open to horses of both genders, six of the nine starters are fillies, including both of the Asmussen runners.

The Mamzelle looks fairly well matched, with some of the main contenders being Wild Storm from California, and Flying Circle and Queen Amira in from Florida.

The Friday card was scheduled to be drawn Tuesday, and the Saturday card will be drawn Wednesday.

Request for Parole retired

Grade 1-winning millionaire Request for Parole has been retired after a chip was discovered in a front ankle, trainer Steve Margolis said Monday.

A skilled dirt runner as a younger horse, as he showed in finishing fifth behind War Emblem in the 2002 Kentucky Derby, he blossomed later in his career when racing on turf. His best year came in 2004, when he won the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap, one of 10 victories he had in his 51-race career.

His form declined as a 7-year-old in 2006, when he won 1 of 6 races, and this year he was unplaced in four starts before the injury ended his racing career.

Margolis was one of two trainers of the horse. He trained Request for Parole as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old, and Stanley Hough, for whom Margolis once worked an assistant, trained him thereafter. Request for Parole had just recently returned to Margolis's barn.

Request for Parole, an 8-year-old son of Judge T C, made more than $1.37 million for his owners, Jeri and Sam Knighton. He last raced April 7, finishing seventh in an allowance at Keeneland.

He may be sold as a stallion prospect, perhaps going to another country for stud duty, Margolis said.

* Dale Jarrett is scheduled to be a visitor on the Churchill backstretch Wednesday morning. Jarrett is a three-time winner of the Daytona 500 and the Nascar Nextel Cup champion in 1999.

- additional reporting by Byron Kingo