10/27/2004 11:00PM

Roman Ruler stages impromptu show

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Thursday morning was far and away the busiest for Breeders' Cup hopefuls, with the entire cast finally on the grounds for Breeders' Cup Day.

While there were no serious workouts by Cup contenders, many blew out for their races, some by design and others perhaps inadvertently, including likely Juvenile favorite Roman Ruler. The morning also gave railbirds their first glance at Funny Cide, who made a great appearance, as well as defending Mile champion Six Perfections.

Lone Star Park

Low 70's
Main track fast, turf soft

Powerscourt, Turf, four furlongs, 42.40: Got extremely hot and looked a bit lackluster after what was little more than a fast gallop.

Whipper, Mile, four furlongs, 44: Appeared to wash out for the second consecutive day.

Trainer Andre Fabre somewhat surprisingly sent both Nebraska Tornado and Diamond Green to work a very slow three furlongs out of the starting gate. Nebraska Tornado went in 40.38, with her stablemate trailing six or seven lengths behind.

One European on her toes for a second consecutive morning was Aubonne, who open-galloped a mile in 1:53.50 while being kept out near the middle of the track. Antonius Pius also went a mile at better than a two-minute clip, finishing his last three-eighths in 42.73, but he never changed leads through the stretch, which might be understandable for a horse who has run all his races clockwise in Europe.

Sense of Style blew out an easy three-eighths accompanied by a stablemate in a slow 41.34 seconds.

Roman Ruler made an awesome appearance but did perhaps a little more than planned in his first visit to the track, breaking into an open gallop once entering the stretch. Daily Racing Form timed his three furlongs in 41.97 from the eighth pole to the six-furlong pole.

Six horses trained over the turf, including Shaconage, who blew out a quarter-mile in 27.11 over the soft course. She was joined on the grass by Ouija Board, Kitten's Joy, Mr O'Brien, Singletary, and Better Talk Now.

Mr O'Brien did not train well. He looked very uncomfortable and short-strided in his first visit to the course.

Final clocker's report

The 91 runners for the Breeders' Cup did their final preparations at various locations around the country, and many did not arrive until earlier this week. As a result, it was possible to see only a fraction of the final works and no more than a couple of last-minute jogs. Here are some final observations from time spent in New York and at Lone Star during the past week.

Distaff - Storm Flag Flying worked a solid half-mile, finishing strong, before leaving New York and continued to make a favorable impression in Texas. She is the pick in a wide-open race. Ashado also worked extremely well in company with her stakes-winning stablemate Capeside Lady over the Belmont training track and continues to look great. Society Selection was a bit anxious to begin and got a little tired at the end of her final prep at Lone Star. Island Fashion had a strong gallop over the track Thursday. Nebraska Tornado appeared to handle the main track while working a slow three-eighths from the gate at Lone Star.

Juvenile Fillies - After watching her have several good mornings since arriving at Lone Star, Sweet Catomine looks to be a worthy favorite. Runway Model made a very good first impression Wednesday and looked even better during Thursday morning's gallop. Play with Fire showed surprising speed, perhaps a bit too much, in her final prep at Belmont but did do so without need of urging. Dance Away Capote has settled in since her arrival and could be a worthy longshot off her effort in the Alcibiades.

Mile - Singletary is my pick in another very tough race. He's had good gallops over both the main track and turf, although I would have preferred not to see him get so hot Thursday. Six Perfections made her first appearance Thursday and appeared a bit rank while having trouble with her lead changes in a slow gallop down the stretch. Nothing to Lose went a bit slower than expected in his final work over the Belmont turf but probably doesn't need to do much to maintain his current top form. Artie Schiller's last work at Lone Star was fast, but the gallop out was very disappointing. You must remember, though, that he is a grass horse training on the main track. Antonius Pius galloped a good mile Thursday but failed to change leads through the stretch, which might not be a good sign. Whipper has gotten quite hot in his first two local appearances.

Sprint - Speightstown, the morning-line favorite, was less than impressive in his final prep. Appeared rank going to the pole and got tired at the end of the drill, which might indicate he is tailing off a bit after running some huge races earlier in the year. Stablemates Midas Eyes and Cajun Beat worked in company, and Cajun Beat appeared to be the stronger of the pair coming to the wire and during the gallop out. Bwana Charlie turned in an eye-catching work here earlier in the week, completing his final quarter in 22.40 seconds. He is a longshot threat but is poorly drawn on the rail. Did not get to see much of the California invaders, Our New Recruit and Kela, who, on paper, may be the ones to beat.

Filly and Mare Turf - Ouija Board was not the strapping type of filly I expected to see coming in off several huge efforts in Europe, but more an athletic-type who did not turn a hair in her two local appearances, including an easy jog over a soft turf course. Aubonne has had two terrific mornings and appears to be coming up to a big effort. Super Brand and Riskaverse both turned in very useful final preps over their home course at Belmont, and Super Brand was particularly impressive.

Juvenile - Afleet Alex turned in arguably the best work of the week and has a chance to upset. Roman Ruler is a monster of a 2-year-old who wins the good-looks award. He was extremely sharp right off the plane following his arrival from California. Proud Accolade held his own while working in company with Classic contender Newfoundland before leaving New York. Sun King has had a good week in Texas. Wilko may be having trouble adjusting to the counter-clockwise style, if his difficulty making lead changes during training is any indication.

Turf - Kitten's Joy couldn't look better. Handled the wet turf course flawlessly in a pair of eye-catching gallops and may be the best bet on the card. Magistretti does not appear on top of his game. He was life and death to keep pace with a stablemate in a recent work over the turf course.

Classic - Anybody looking to knock defending champion Pleasantly Perfect here this week will be hard pressed to find a single fault. He couldn't be training any better and looks ready to repeat despite facing a very strong field that includes Ghostzapper, Roses in May, and Funny Cide, all of whom have made very favorable appearances during the past week. Ghostzapper's final work in New York was flawless, and Roses in May has had several strong gallops following his work here last Saturday. Azeri has never looked better, in sharp contrast to when I saw her balk repeatedly before her final work before being scratched from the 2003 Distaff. Birdstone has shown a lot more interest in recent mornings after looking a bit lackluster earlier in the week. Japan's Personal Rush has been asked to do a lot in a short period of time since his arrival and was unimpressive in his final work.