09/09/2004 11:00PM

Roses in May leads Kentucky Cup probables


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Lineups for the Kentucky Cup races are starting to come together, with nationally recognized names being mentioned for some of the five races that will be run Saturday at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Roses in May will be favored in the signature race of the series, the $350,000 Classic, but he will probably have several legitimate challengers. Perfect Drift, the defending champion in the Grade 2 race, may start, while Alumni Hall, Pie N Burger, Seattle Fitz, and Eye of the Tiger also are under consideration.

Murray Johnson, trainer of Perfect Drift, has been in England in recent days and was not expected to return until Monday, when Perfect Drift is scheduled to work out at Louisville Trackside.

"I believe the work is supposed to determine whether he'll run," said Joe Deegan, who will be aboard for the move.

Doc Danner, agent for Pat Day, said he was waiting for further information to confirm which horses Day would ride in the Kentucky Cup, although Danner said Perfect Drift would be his mount in the Classic.

Neil Howard said Friday from New York that he doubted whether Alumni Hall would run if both Roses in May and Perfect Drift started, "but that's not definite yet," said Howard. "We're still looking it over."

In the other Kentucky Cup races:

* Mayo on the Side and Angela's Love are the top names for the secondary feature, the $175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup for fillies and mares.

* Cuvee, with Shane Sellers to ride, will make his first start in more than four months as the likely favorite in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds. Silver Minister is also likely to run.

* Trainer Bob Baffert is expected to send Fusaichi Rock Star, an impressive maiden winner last month at Del Mar, as the likely favorite for the $100,000 Juvenile.

* Kota, winner of the Fisher Debutante at Ellis Park, and Myrene, a 17-length maiden winner at Ellis, are among the candidates for the $100,000 Juvenile Fillies.

Colonial Colony taken out of training

Colonial Colony has been taken out of training after a prolonged campaign that caused the 6-year-old horse to lose weight and his edge, trainer Walt Bindner Jr. said.

"He did a lot of traveling this summer, and he's not the kind of big, strong horse to handle it all that well," said Bindner. "We're thinking about the Clark this fall, but if we don't make that, he's going to race next year at 7. He's unbelievably sound. The New Orleans Handicap next March would be the long-term goal."

Colonial Colony suddenly became a factor in the national handicap ranks when he captured the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill in June. After that, Colonial Colony finished a close fourth in both the Suburban and Washington Park handicaps, then came in sixth in the Pacific Classic.

Bindner said the horse has been turned out at owner Chris Nolan's Lakeside Farm in southern Indiana.

Champali may run next at Keeneland

Champali's star dimmed after a recent loss at Arlington Park, but the colt is still one big race away from the Breeders' Cup Sprint, said trainer Greg Foley.

Foley said he is looking at the Phoenix on Oct. 8, opening day of the Keeneland fall meet.

"We might run in the Marfa at Turfway [Sept. 25], but the Phoenix is more like it," he said.

Champali, an earner of more than $900,000 in 19 starts, won the Aristides at Churchill and the Smile Sprint at Calder before finishing third as the odds-on favorite two weeks ago in the Arlington BC.

Hernandez, 17, hopes to contend for Eclipse

With several top riders in North America having had their apprenticeships expire in recent weeks and months, there is an outside shot that a big autumn in Kentucky would propel Brian Hernandez Jr. into contention for an Eclipse Award as top apprentice for 2004.

Fred Aime, Hernandez's agent, noted that the three top contenders for the apprentice Eclipse - Mick Ruis, Pablo Fragoso, and James Graham - all have already lost their "bugs," while Hernandez, who leads all apprentices with 171 wins this year, will retain his five-pound allowance into December.

"He's got the most wins, but obviously not the most in earnings," said Aime. "But if we have a good fall, it might close the gap pretty well and make some people take notice."

Hernandez, 17, rode at the Churchill spring meet, then returned to Evangeline Downs, where he dominated the standings. He got off to a good start at the Turfway fall meet, winning the opening-night feature aboard Western Doll for trainer Dave Vance on Wednesday.

Two apprentices look for their first wins

Two young apprentice riders are hoping to win the first races of their careers at the Turfway meet: Jaleina Farrell, 17, and Kyle Kaenel, 16.

Farrell, whose family lives in Hurley, Miss., exercised horses this summer at Ellis for Ron Bosarge before starting to ride races there. She finished first in a race during the final week of the meet, but her mount was disqualified for interference. Farrell is in her second year of taking correspondence courses from James Madison University in Virginia.

Kaenel spent the summer exercising horses, mostly for Bob Holthus and Jinks Fires. He is the son of Jack "Cowboy" Kaenel, who has been in and out of retirement several times over the last two decades. The elder Kaenel made an indelible mark on racing by winning the 1982 Preakness aboard Aloma's Ruler at age 16.

Michael McGary, the jockey agent known as Clarence, is handling Farrell's business while also booking mounts for Rafael Mojica Jr. Ron Mullis is the agent for Kaenel.

Bejarano jumps out with four-bagger

Rafael Bejarano got off to a rapid start at Turfway by winning four races Thursday night, putting him atop the jockey standings in the early going of a 22-day meet that began Wednesday.

Except for the Keeneland spring meet, the 22-year-old Bejarano has won the riding title everywhere he has ridden regularly this year: the Turfway winter-spring meet, the Churchill spring meet, and the Ellis summer meet. He is the leading rider in wins in North America this year.

* Ralph Nicks is back at Churchill with a public stable that consists of 10 horses for four different clients. Nicks is rebuilding following his short-lived term as private trainer for Team Valor, a stint that ended when Nicks was suspended in late June for a medication violation.