05/29/2001 11:00PM

Roman continues on a roll


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When Dale Romans said he was loaded for bear for the Churchill spring meet, he wasn't kidding.

As the 47-day meet hit its midway point Thursday, Romans was the undisputed leading trainer, with only Elliott Walden and Bernie Flint within shouting distance. True to form, Romans should find himself in an enviable position when the Friday feature, the ninth of 10 races, rolls around: One of his up-and-coming horses, Irish Fantasy, should prove the one to beat in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies.

Irish Fantasy, owned by the McKee Stables of Ron McKee, finished a solid fourth behind Caressing in her last start, the May 3 La Troienne Stakes. Before that, Irish Fantasy pulled away from a terrific field at Keeneland, winning at 46-1 in an effort that now seems no fluke.

Walden and Flint also are represented by legitimate contenders in the $45,500 feature: Walden by Copewiththiscoyote, and Flint by Spanish Glitter.

The rest of the field consists of The Hess Express, Beloved By All, Magic Madam, Dressed In Gold, and Persian Silver.

Only one other allowance race - a $42,900 entry-level sprint, which also happens to be for 3-year-old fillies - is carded for Friday. It goes as race six.

As has become customary on Fridays, no turf races are scheduled. Twilight first post is 3 p.m. Eastern.

Williams News heads Louisville 'Cap

The lone stakes of the coming weekend, the $100,000 Louisville Handicap for older turf horses at 1 3/8 miles, is shaping up with a small- to mid-sized field.

Williams News, the veteran campaigner trained by Tom Amoss, is the probable starting highweight at 117 pounds. Others expected are Air Rocket, Gritty Sandie, Hesiode, Profit Option, and Royal Strand.

Hesiode figures as the wild card of the Louisville 'Cap. A French-bred 4-year-old, owned by Gary Tanaka and trained by Steve Asmussen, he will be making his U.S. debut and his first start since finishing ninth in the Arc de Triomphe last fall.

* Alex Waldrop, president of Churchill Downs, will leave Wednesday for the June 9 Epsom Derby. It will be Waldrop's first trip to Great Britain's most historic race. "It's sort of an exchange program that was started at the Kentucky Derby this year, when Stephen Wallis, who fills a role similar to mine at Epsom Downs, came over here to see how we do things."