11/01/2006 12:00AM

Rain and cold dampen a.m. works

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Wednesday provided a golden opportunity to see many of this year's Breeders' Cup starters for the first time since their arrival at Churchill Downs. Unfortunately, overnight rain that continued throughout the morning made training conditions less than ideal, although the turf course was open for business with the dogs set out past the middle of the course.

Most of the Europeans have cleared quarantine and either cantered or galloped over the turf and dirt. Only two horses had recorded works, both at three furlongs over the sloppy main track.

Sprint

Nightmare Affair (three furlongs in 36.12 seconds): He had the misfortune of catching perhaps the heaviest showers of the morning when breaking off at the three-furlong pole under jockey Edgar Prado, who will ride him on Saturday. Nightmare Affair has a tendency to be headstrong in his works, as evidenced by a 34-second-and-change blowout in the slop at Saratoga prior to the Forego, but he settled in nicely for Prado and went along at a fairly even clip of 12.34 and 24.23 before running his final furlong without urging in 11.89.

Nightmare Affair gave his connections some anxious moments when he dropped his rider while pulling up down the backstretch, but Prado landed on his feet, held onto the reins, and was able to keep a potentially disastrous situation under control.

Juvenile

Teuflesberg (three furlongs in 38.82): He was a bit rank getting to the pole after being passed by another worker midway down the backstretch. With trainer Jamie Sanders aboard, Teuflesberg finally came to hand once in full stride, working an easy three-eighths over the wet going although laboring a bit through a final furlong in 13.02, then pulling up abruptly, barely making a gallop-out time of 54 seconds.

Gallops and jogs

Trainer Doug O'Neill had a good morning, beginning with Thor's Echo shortly before dawn and ending with Lava Man nearly four hours later. Thor's Echo set the tone with a crisp gallop, during which he picked up the pace decidedly coming to the wire and around the clubhouse turn.

That pattern was repeated by stablemates Areyoutalkintome, Sharp Lisa, and Great Hunter.

Sharp Lisa had her best day, reeling off three straight furlongs in 13 seconds and change into and around the clubhouse turn. Great Hunter continues to make a good impression, dropping down on the rail near midstretch and going at better than a two-minute clip for nearly an entire half-mile around the turn.

But it was Lava Man who once again surprised the few railbirds still braving the rain and cold as training hours came to a close - by following an easy mile with a brisk one-mile gallop on the turf.

Among the others to get a feel for the soggy grass strip were the Euros Rob Roy, Sleeping Indian, and Filly and Mare Turf favorite Ouija Board.

Ouija Board came out equipped in a hood and earmuffs for her easy one-mile gallop. Trainer Graham Motion sent out Film Maker and Better Talk Now for routine gallops on the turf.

It took three ponies to get stablemates David Junior and Red Rocks to the paddock and once around the main track. Two of the three ponies flanked David Junior most of the way, although it was Red Rocks who appeared the more skittish of the pair.

Hurricane Run appeared a bit rank while jogging alongside a pony after coming out on the track shortly after the renovation break, but he harnessed some of that energy when finally turned loose, dropping over to the rail at midstretch to open gallop three furlongs around the turn in 44 and change. This turf specialist has a high leg action and appears to hit the ground hard when galloping on dirt.