12/18/2008 1:00AM

Romans thinking Chapolte will rebound


Chapolte got eaten up on a prolonged speed duel in her last out, but trainer Dale Romans is not discouraged. Regrouped since fading to fifth in that entry-level allowance on the first Stars of Tomorrow card of the Churchill Downs fall meet, Chapolte has been training "extremely well" toward her return to action, said Romans.

"I'm laying most of the blame on the way the pace set up last time," Romans said by phone this week from Gulfstream Park, where he is setting up his primary winter base.

Chapolte will make her first start in seven weeks when she resurfaces Saturday at Turfway Park in the $50,000 Gowell Stakes. The six-furlong Gowell drew a field of 11 2-year-old fillies, with Chapolte likely to be one of the favorites. In her only race before being defeated on Nov. 1 at Churchill, Chapolte ran off to an 11-length triumph on Oct. 3 at Hoosier Park.

"That race got us hoping for some pretty big things for her," said Romans. "I think she's going to rebound in a big way Saturday. I look for her to run big, and if she does, we're going to seriously consider taking her to the Sunshine Millions," namely the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks on Jan. 24 at Santa Anita.

Chapolte, a Grand Slam filly owned by Robert Haas, will be ridden by Tommy Pompell when she breaks from post 3 in the Gowell, the 11th of 12 Saturday races at the Florence, Ky., track.

Several other fillies also appear capable of victory in the Gowell, including three who won their last start at Churchill: Lady's Laughter, Emma Darling, and Step Out Smartly. Of those, Emma Darling is most accomplished, having rallied to win a mile allowance that opened the second Stars of Tomorrow program on closing day, Nov. 29, at Churchill. Lady's Laughter and Step Out Smartly were maiden winners.

For a filly with a particularly sharp recent victory over Turfway's Polytrack, look no further than Karacuda, a four-length allowance winner on Dec. 10. Julio Felix will ride for trainer Eric Reed.

The Gowell, named for the winner of the first Inaugural Stakes at old Latonia in 1913, dates to 1985. The 2007 winner was Kadira, trained by David Vance.

First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.