09/23/2004 12:00AM

Sand Springs key to Ladies Turf

Sand Springs and Mark Guidry will have to face other speed horses in the Ladies Turf.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Just to make sure, trainer Tony Reinstedler sent Sand Springs to Kentucky Downs from his Churchill Downs base a few days early.

"She's a little strong-minded," Reinstedler said with a shake of the head, a roll of the eyes, and a somewhat exasperated chuckle. "I thought it would be a good idea to send her down there to get used to her surroundings."

As the leading earner among the 10 fillies and mares set to clash Saturday in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf, Sand Springs, 4, appears the main variable in handicapping the one-mile race. There are other considerations, of course, but "the bottom line is," said Reinstedler, "it's all up to her."

Throughout her 18-race career, has been alternately unmanageable yet sensational, cantankerous yet speedy, stubborn yet talented. Indeed, Sand Springs always seems to have her trainer walking on eggshells as a race day approaches.

"There's other speed in there that might make this a little tricky," Reinstedler said of Saturday's race. "But she's been meeting top-class company all year, and most of those races have been on courses with some give to it. Saturday, we're supposed to have a hard course, which she likes. So I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do with it."

Reinstedler knows something about winning big races at Kentucky Downs. He was the trainer and co-owner of Yaqthan, winner of the first Kentucky Cup Turf in 1998.

Sand Springs, with regular rider Mark Guidry aboard, will break from post 3. Her strongest challenger could be May Gator, winner of the Dade Turf Classic in her last start.

"I like our mare, but everybody knows that they have to like that course down there if you're going to win," said Steve Flint, the trainer of May Gator.

The Ladies Turf is the 12th of 16 races on Saturday's Kentucky Downs-Turfway Park combined card.

Simon 'confident' in Battle Won in Turf Dash

Most of the horses in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash (race 6) are far more accomplished on grass than Battle Won. But that fact doesn't temper the enthusiasm that trainer Charles Simon has for Battle Won, a 4-year-old gelding who recently made his first start on grass.

"I really think this horse is going to be a lot better on turf than dirt," said Simon.

Battle Won forced all the pace before fading to fourth in his Sept. 3 turf debut, the restricted Troy Stakes at Saratoga. Simon believes the gelding had a very tough trip in that one-mile race and that the six-furlong distance of the Turf Dash will be more to his liking.

"He ran good enough that day that if he runs the same Saturday, he's going to be very tough," said Simon. "Let's just say I'm pretty confident going in."

Other top contenders include Abderian, a Maryland invader who was a narrowly beaten second in the Turf Dash last year, and Mighty Beau, who has earned more than $325,000 while specializing in turf sprints.

Mighty Beau spent most of his career with trainer Randy Morse before being transferred to Jeff Mullins, who then turned the gelding over to Steve Asmussen in the spring.

Mile field less than stellar

The Kentucky Cup Mile (race 9) usually is one of the bright spots of the event, having been won by such solid performers as Rob 'n Gin (1998), Glick (2000), and Hard Buck (2003) in previous runnings.

With an ordinary six-horse field, it remains to be seen if the 2004 KC Mile will be memorable, but this much is sure: there will be a winner, and he will earn $62,000 of the $100,000 purse. The short list of most likely winners includes Banned in Boston and 9-year-old Gretchen's Star.