10/27/2005 11:00PM

Romans stable will be stacked again


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Before he disperses most of his huge stable to south Florida and New York for the long winter ahead, Dale Romans has pressing business at the 21-day Churchill Downs fall meet, which begins Sunday.

Like many trainers in the Midwest, Romans has been planning ahead for the winter because there will be no meet at the Fair Grounds because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Romans said he will be active at three tracks: Turfway Park, Gulfstream Park, and for the first time in several years, Aqueduct.

"A lot of guys are having to change what they normally do every winter," said Romans. "Obviously, stalls are going to be real tight in Florida, so that's affected us a little, and it's one of the reasons I decided to try to make a bigger push into New York."

But before then, Romans will have his many eggs in one Churchill basket - which can't be very good news for rival stables this month. More than ever, Romans dominated the Churchill spring meet with 36 winners, 16 more than runners-up Steve Asmussen and Joe Woodard, and it certainly looks like the fall meet could bring more of the same.

"We've got a lot of horses ready to run," said Romans, 39. "Hopefully we're going to have as many opportunities to run as anyone. With a short meet like this, sometimes you need to catch some breaks with whose races go and what kind of conditions you're strong in."

Two good shots for Woodard

After sending out a record 10 straight winners at Churchill this spring, trainer Joe Woodard would have a right to have high expectations for the fall meet at Churchill. If so, it doesn't show.

"That streak just kind of happened," Woodard said Friday. "I'm not thinking about that now. We've got a bunch of claiming horses. I'm just hoping some of that luck carries over."

Woodard and his primary owner, Louisville automobile dealer Billy Hays, hope to get a successful meet started Sunday. The duo starts Funky Pirate in the first race, a starter allowance, and stakes winner Sterling Gold in the ninth race, the featured Ack Ack Handicap. Both are contenders.

Woodard said Sterling Gold, winner of the Don Bernhardt Stakes at Ellis Park this past summer, is doing well but likely needs some of his principal opponents to turn in sub-par efforts to win.

Funky Pirate gets a "real test" Sunday in the first race, Woodard said. The horse comes off six straight victories, including a 17-length romp at Beulah Park on Oct. 8. Claimed for $8,000 off of Hays and Woodard at Churchill on June 11, Funky Pirate was bought back privately by Hays. "He was one of Billy's favorites," Woodard said.

Woodard finished the Churchill spring meet with 20 winners, tied for second in the trainer standings. Woodard was the spring meet's leading owner with 19 victories.

Rules change for Churchill pick six

Churchill has changed the rules for its pick six so that if a race is switched from the turf to the main track after the first pick six race has already been run, the transferred race becomes an "all" winner, effectively reducing the bet to a pick five.

If two or more races are switched from turf to the main track, winning tickets will be paid from that day's pool only, with the existing carryover pool transferring to the next day's program.

Switching from supers to pick fours

Churchill has offered guaranteed pools of $50,000 (weekdays) and $100,000 (weekends) on a designated superfecta at recent meets, but the track is switching over to pick fours for this meet. A guaranteed pick four ($1 minimum wager) will be in effect for the final four races each day, with the same numbers in effect: $50,000 on weekdays and $100,000 on weekends (including Nov. 24-26).

The guarantee will not be in effect opening day but will begin Wednesday.

- additional reporting by Byron King

2005 fall Churchill Downs stakes schedule

 FALL MEET (Oct. 30-Nov. 26)      
Sun.,Oct. 30Ack Ack Handicap (G3)3YO & Up7 furlongs100,000
Sat.,Nov. 5Pocahontas (G3)2YO F1 mile100,000
Sat.,Nov. 5Iroquois (G3)2YO1 mile100,000
Sun.,Nov. 6Chilukki (G2)F&M, 3YO & Up1 mile150,000
Sat.,Nov. 12Mrs. Revere (G2)3YO F1 1/16 miles (T)150,000
Sun.,Nov. 13Commonwealth Turf 3YO1 1/16 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,Nov. 19Cardinal Handicap (G3)F&M, 3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sun.,Nov. 20River City Handicap (G3)3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Thurs.,Nov. 24Falls City Handicap (G2)F&M, 3YO & Up1 1/8 miles300,000
Fri.,Nov. 25Clark Handicap (G2)3YO & Up1 1/8 miles500,000
Sat.,Nov. 26Golden Rod (G2)2YO F1 1/16 miles200,000
Sat.,Nov. 26Kentucky Jockey Club (G2)2YO1 1/16 miles200,000