05/24/2006 12:00AM

Romans duo appear tops in feature

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - By running Wiggins and M B Sea in the Friday feature at Churchill Downs, trainer Dale Romans has 40 percent of the field.

"I like that kind of situation," said Romans.

You can bet he does. Even with the allure of a $68,000 purse, only three opponents were entered against the Romans duo in the Friday feature, which is supposed to serve as a prep for the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 17. Wiggins and M B Sea, who will run uncoupled for wagering purposes, are the most capable runners in the field and figure to vie for favoritism, but even Romans concedes "that'd be a big leap" if one were to run well enough to merit taking a look at the Foster.

"It's funny, but they're very similar in a lot of ways," said Romans, who has won or tied for five of the last six Churchill spring meet training titles and appears well on his way to another. "They're hard-knocking - they try hard every time - and both like this racetrack. The Foster might be out of their reach, but we'll have to see how they run Friday."

As for trying to separate the two for a Friday wager, "I honestly don't know which one is better," Romans said.

, a 7-year-old horse owned by Michael Bruder, has won 5 of 14 starts at Churchill and most recently finished fourth behind Gouldings Green and Wild Desert in the Alysheba Stakes on the May 5 Kentucky Oaks undercard.

, a 6-year-old gelding owned by a Chicago-based partnership, has made a small fortune beating up on fellow Illinois-breds, as typified by his last race, a four-length triumph in the restricted Milwaukee Avenue at Hawthorne. In his lone try at Churchill, Wiggins was impressive in winning a money allowance on closing day of the 2005 spring meet.

Probably the strongest challenger is , even though the 4-year-old colt is on an eight-race losing streak. Trained by Bob Holthus, Greater Good won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill at 2, then the Southwest and Rebel early in his 3-year-old campaign.

Thunder Mission and Eroberer round out the field.

Because of the short field, Churchill's racing secretary, Doug Bredar, opted to card the Foster prep early on the Friday program, as the fourth of 11 races. A $50,000 claiming sprint occupies what otherwise would be the featured 10th-race slot. Twilight first post for the card is 2:45 p.m. Eastern.