06/16/2005 12:00AM

Rush Bay stays on turf for Jefferson Cup run


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Having trained racehorses for 18 years, Tom Amoss has been on both the winning and losing ends of hundreds of photo finishes. Unfortunately for Amoss, one of his more memorable losses came some six weeks ago in front of 100,000-plus fans, when Rush Bay lost a heartbreaker to Rey de Cafe in the May 6 Crown Royal American Turf at Churchill Downs.

, said Amoss, "was unlucky to lose - just as the winner would've been unlucky to lose. They both ran great races that day."

Amoss is hoping there will be no need for a photo when Rush Bay returns to action Saturday as a major contender in the $200,000 Jefferson Cup, one of six stakes to be run on the Stephen Foster Day program at Churchill. Because the Crown Royal was the first time Rush Bay ever raced on grass, Amoss is excited about what the future may hold for the colt. Rush Bay, bred and owned by the Phoebe Ann Mueller Trust, is by the noted grass sire Cozzene out of a mare, Seoul, whose family runs very deep in accomplished grass horses.

"That last race and his pedigree would certainly seem to say this could be an outstanding grass horse," said Amoss. "He had the fortune, or you might say misfortune, of running a big race here last fall in the Kentucky Jockey Club, so we felt like we had to give him an opportunity to see how he could do in the major dirt races."

But Rush Bay, second in the Kentucky Jockey Club, was soundly beaten in the Risen Star and Arkansas Derby, leading him to the turf. Saturday, he will start from post 7 in a field of eight 3-year-olds, ridden again by Robby Albarado. Rush Bay will race without blinkers after having worn them his last three starts.

"We've had no setbacks since the Crown Royal," said Amoss. "It was always our intention to wait for this race, so the fact he hasn't raced since then, that's just been part of the plan."

Probably the top opponents for Rush Bay are , the one-two finishers in the Forerunner at Keeneland in April. Although Gun Salute has not raced since then, Mad Adam has, and his one appearance was a mind-blower: the Michigan-bred colt was stopped cold in the $200,000 USA Stakes at Lone Star Park, yet still won the May 30 race in an extraordinary effort.

The others in the Jefferson Cup, which goes at 1 1/8 miles, are Franklin's Tower, Mesawmi, Big Prairie, Ground Control, and Chatham Strait.

Regret: Edgewood rematch

The first four finishers in the Edgewood Stakes are set for a rematch in one of the deepest races on the Foster Day card, the $200,000 Regret Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Sweet Talker not only won the May 6 Edgewood, but also returned three weeks later to win a weekday allowance, a race designed specifically as a prep for the Grade 3 Regret. In the Edgewood, Sweet Talker got a terrific ride from Brice Blanc and finished ahead of, in order, Rich in Spirit, Insan Mala, and Cape Hope, all of whom are back for the Regret.

Rich in Spirit, trained by Tom Proctor, seems especially capable of turning the tables under jockey Gary Stevens. In the Edgewood, she trailed for much of the way before closing stoutly to lose by less than a length.

Opening Verse: Advantage to Senor Swinger

Rare is the race that ends a program by drawing such a quality field. Nonetheless, the $100,000 Opening Verse Stakes, the last of 11 Saturday races, shapes up as an appropriate way to end Foster Day, with multiple stakes winners Senor Swinger, G P Fleet, and Del Mar Show heading the cast.

Senor Swinger may have a slight edge, considering his 4-for-7 record over the course and the fact the 1 1/16-mile Opening Verse will be the third race in his latest form cycle. Senor Swinger, trained by Bob Baffert, drew the inside post in a field of eight older horses.