06/15/2005 12:00AM

Rich in Spirit spurs Proctor revival


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It has been more than a decade since trainer Tom Proctor sent out One Dreamer to a 47-1 upset in the 1994 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs. During the years that followed what remains the greatest win of Proctor's 27-year career, he has never quite been able to recapture that magic, and his friends occasionally tease him about selling his soul to the devil for that one victory.

Indeed, Proctor has struggled at times since his Breeders' Cup win, with his annual stable earnings having fallen short of the $500,000 mark in four of the last 10 years. But Proctor currently has a solid core of horses, including one that will run here Saturday on the Stephen Foster undercard, and he is on pace to have his most productive year since his stable earned its record-high $1.23 million in 1994.

"It looks like the devil finally spit my soul back at me," joked Proctor, 49. "I guess he didn't like it."

Proctor will saddle Rich in Spirit as a prime contender in the $200,000 Regret Stakes, one of five supporting features on the Stephen Foster undercard. In her last start, Rich in Spirit closed stoutly to finish second behind another Regret starter, Sweet Talker, in the May 6 Edgewood Stakes. Gary Stevens, who rode One Dreamer for Proctor in the 1994 BC Distaff, has the mount back on Rich in Spirit.

Proctor has several other horses that have been sharp at this meet, including Forever Brilliant, Purim, and Grat.

Breeders to represent Derby winner

Churchill management found itself in something of a quandary this week when trying to plan what has become a Foster Day tradition: the presentation of the engraved owner's trophy from the most recent Kentucky Derby.

In previous years, the winning owners usually have been present, and a ceremony of appropriate pomp and circumstance has been held to honor their Derby victory. But Jerry and Ann Moss, whose colt Giacomo captured the 131st Derby on May 7, are unable to be here Saturday because of a family commitment. And winning trainer John Shirreffs won't be here because the Mosses aren't coming and because Shirreffs is not running any horses here Foster Day.

Churchill officials considered scrapping or postponing the presentation but ultimately decided Wednesday that the presentation will indeed take place between races Saturday. The winners will be represented by Giacomo's breeders, Mill Ridge Farm, and by jockey Mike Smith, who rode the colt to victory.

The trophy presentation was initiated as part of the now defunct Derby Alumni Day ceremonies in 1998. Although the winning connections typically are on hand, that hasn't always been the case. Fusao Sekiguchi, owner of Fusaichi Pegasus, was represented by his daughter in 2000, and the Prince Ahmed Salman, whose Thoroughbred Corp. owned 2002 winner War Emblem, was represented by trainer Bob Baffert.

Star power lacking in Fleur de Lis

The Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap - won in recent years by such mares as Serena's Song, Escena, Banshee Breeze, and Spain - attracted no such star for Saturday's running. A field of eight was entered for the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis, led by Shadow Cast, the 118-pound starting highweight.

Absent from the entries was Santa Margarita winner Tarlow, who was not shipped to Louisville, Ky., from her Hollywood Park base in California.

From the rail out, the Fleur de Lis entrants, with riders, are: Two Trail Sioux, Pat Day named to ride; Shadow Cast, Robby Albarado; Quick Temper, Larry Melancon; Island Sand, Smith; Freei, Cornelio Velasquez; Rare Gift, Edgar Prado; Storm's Darling, Eddie Martin Jr.; and La Reason, Corey Lanerie.

The lone Grade 1 winner is Island Sand, who is winless in seven starts since taking the Acorn at Belmont Park last June. She finished second to Shadow Cast in the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

Six take on Don't Get Mad

Six rivals were entered to challenge Derby Trial winner Don't Get Mad in the Grade 3 Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup, the second of six stakes on the Saturday card.

Bucharest, with Day named to ride, will break from post 1, inside of Don't Get Mad and jockey Gary Stevens in post 2. Drawn on their outside are Real Dandy, Smith; Crimson Stag, Albarado; Unbridled Energy, Rafael Bejarano; First Word, Jerry Bailey; and Secret Woods, Lanerie.

Don't Get Mad, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, is expected to start at a short price in the 1 1/16-mile Northern Dancer.

Senor Swinger looks dangerous

Now that Senor Swinger has had two races since a six-month layoff, the horse could be particularly dangerous Saturday in the $100,000 Opening Verse, a race he won last year.

"It seems like he needed those two races since he came back," said John Good, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert. "He's had two workouts since his last race, and it's like he's saying, 'I'm back in the game.' "

Senor Swinger, who has won 4 of 7 starts over the Churchill grass course, drew the rail in a field of eight older horses entered in the 1 1/16-mile Opening Verse.

Friday: Stupendous Miss is classiest

Stupendous Miss, a Dynaformer filly who began her career in France with trainer Criquette Head before being sent to Wally Dollase in Southern California, looks like the class of the Friday feature, a $57,000, third-level grass allowance that drew an overflow field of fillies and mares.

Stevens has the mount back on Stupendous Miss, who was narrowly beaten as the odds-on choice in her Churchill debut on May 4.

- additional reporting by Byron King