05/25/2006 12:00AM

Reunited seeks to fire fresh again


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It was a little more than a year ago at Churchill Downs that trainer Neil Howard unveiled a first-time starter named Reunited. Most of the racing world must have heard wonderful things about the Dixie Union filly, because after Reunited led all the way to win by nearly seven lengths, she returned a mere $3.80.

Seven races, four wins, one triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, and one six-month layoff later, Reunited will be trying to fire fresh again. Having last raced on closing day of the Churchill fall meet, Reunited will make her return to action Saturday as one of the deserving favorites in the $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes at Churchill.

, owned by Will Farish, has been working superbly in recent weeks at Churchill, several times with her regular rider, Robby Albarado, aboard. Her latest drill was recorded last Sunday, when she zipped five furlongs in 58.60 seconds.

"That was as slow as I could get her to go," said Albarado. "I wasn't doing a thing on her. To me, she seems bigger and stronger than last year, more mature. And you know Neil's not going to run unless she's ready to do it."

Foremost among Reunited's victories last year was the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland, where she rated just off the pace before narrowly prevailing.

"She started showing a little versatility by the end of last year, although she's always going to have that big speed going for her," said Albarado.

Saturday, Reunited and Albarado will break from post 5 in the Winning Colors, a six-furlong race that drew eight fillies and mares. Hot Storm, Ever Elusive, and Atlas Valley look like the major threats to spoil her return.

enters with a five-race win streak but has not raced in the four months since she captured the restricted Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint. Ever Elusive, from the powerhouse Todd Pletcher stable, enters off a solid third-place finish behind Dubai Escapade in the Grade 2 Madison. The stretch-running Atlas Valley has finished first or second in 5 of 7 starts over the Churchill main track.

The rest of the Winning Colors field is , Flying Falcon, Ten Carat Ruby, and Ebony Breeze.

First post Saturday is 1:15 p.m. A color print of Barbaro winning the May 6 Kentucky Derby will be given out with each paid admission.