11/10/2008 12:00AM

Sam P. brings class edge to allowance

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If class and character are gauged by company kept, then Sam P. has a lot going for him. Names such as Curlin, Street Sense, Hard Spun, Tiago, and Zanjero dot his past performances, suggesting his $373,523 bankroll from 18 career starts has been earned very much the hard way.

The occasional dip into the allowance ranks has tended to keep Sam P. competitive, and in fact it was in a Churchill Downs allowance that he earned his most recent of three career victories. Wednesday, Sam P. will drop from stakes to allowance company as one of the favorites in a competitive field of 11 entered in the Churchill feature, a $48,700, third-level allowance.

Todd Pletcher is the trainer of Sam P., a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by Don Lucarelli and the Starlight Stable of Jack and Laurie Wolf. In four starts since his May 24 triumph in a Churchill allowance, Sam P. has recorded excellent Beyer Speed Figures - 89, 91, 95, and 92 - and yet did not come close to winning any of those races. But those numbers would seem to make him a major contender when he breaks from post 9 under Jamie Theriot in the ninth of 10 races, which will be run at a mile around one turn.

Besides Sam P., other logical challengers in the Wednesday feature include Shone, Itsallboutthechase, Forty Grams, and My Private Lake.

Shone won twice at the Churchill spring meet before going off form at Saratoga. Itsallboutthechase has five career wins, and three have come here. Forty Grams is a stakes-seasoned earner of nearly $350,000. And My Private Lake comes off a victory in the $103,000 Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park.

One longshot possibility is the Tom Amoss-trained Coach Ryan, a 3-year-old named for Ryan Pitino, the youngest son of legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino, whose Ol' Memorial Stable co-owns the gelding with Clint Glasscock.

"Tom has done a phenomenal job with the horse since he got him in the spring," Glasscock said.

One race earlier Wednesday, older horses also will race at a mile, albeit around two turns on the turf course when competing under a first-level allowance condition and for a $44,100 purse. Whitley, an Arthur Hancock homebred, looks like the one to beat with Robby Albarado aboard in another deep field.

First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.