04/26/2006 12:00AM

Rochester tries again in Elkhorn


LEXINGTON, Ky. - If this is a 1 1/2-mile turf stakes at Keeneland, then Rochester must be in there somewhere.

And he is. For the fifth straight year, Rochester is in the lineup for the $200,000 Elkhorn, a Grade 3 race that helps close the books on the 15-day Keeneland spring meet Friday.

Not only has Rochester raced in the Elkhorn every year since 2002, but he also has competed in every running of the Sycamore Breeders' Cup - Keeneland's fall-meet counterpart to the Elkhorn - since 2001. And although he has never won the Elkhorn, Rochester clearly has a fondness for the Keeneland turf, having won the Sycamore three times (2001, '02, '05). Overall, his career record at Keeneland is 10-4-2-2, with $430,596 in earnings here alone.

, the remarkably durable gelding who has spent virtually all of his 46-race career in the care of Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, is 10, and it doesn't get any easier from here. The Elkhorn drew an exceptionally deep field of turf-marathon specialists, including Silverfoot, Dreadnaught, and Go Deputy, all of whom have kept classy company throughout distinguished careers.

, a stretch-running gray gelding, has been freshened by trainer Dallas Stewart since finishing fifth as the favorite in the Mac Diarmida Handicap at Gulfstream Park in late January.

Dreadnaught also enters off a layoff, having finished a close fourth in the McKnight Handicap at Calder in mid-December after winning the Laurel Turf Cup in his previous start.

was third as the favorite in the Pan American this month after running second in both the Mac Diarmida and Gulfstream Park BC handicaps.

Other viable contenders include Watershed Event and Dynalympic, both of whom won turf allowances earlier in the meet, and Ramazutti, who was narrowly beaten at 31-1 in the Pan American. The rest of the Elkhorn field is Gunning For, Dynantonia, Pellegrino, Westmoreland Road, and Cosmonaut.

Rochester, with Robby Albarado to ride, will break from post 8 in the three-turn Elkhorn while making his first start in more than five months. Overall, the Augustin Stable homebred has earned nearly $1.2 million in a career that began in France in the fall of 1998, when he was ridden by Cash Asmussen.

The Elkhorn is the ninth of 10 races on the Keeneland closer. Live racing on the Kentucky circuit shifts Saturday to Churchill Downs in Louisville.