09/17/2001 11:00PM

Saturday in May part of Stidham turf tryout


CHICAGO - Turf-horse auditions are being held Wednesday in the Mike Stidham barn. Not once, but twice on Arlington's nine-race card, Stidham will saddle horses who have never raced on grass, and when he tightens the girth on Saturday in May before the featured eighth race, he will do so with a somewhat heightened sense of anticipation. "If he ever puts it all together, he could be a good horse," Stidham said.

Wednesday, Saturday in May, a maiden winner here a month ago, begins his climb up the allowance ladder when he faces a full field in the first-level allowance race, carded for about 1 1/16-miles. Stidham will know by then how his initial turf experiment on the card turned out. The second-time starter Corona Wells, eighth in her dirt-sprint debut, also faced a full field in a bettable 2-year-old maiden race. "We just wanted to get a race in the filly and try her on grass," Stidham said of Corona Wells's debut.

Getting races into Saturday in May has been the problem. Owned by Peter Blum, Saturday in May came into Stidham's Fair Grounds barn this winter with a name - and a blue-blooded pedigree - that set the bar high from the start. But Saturday in May was somewhat coltish, progressing slowly at first, and circumstances limited him to only two starts before his Arlington win; a narrow loss in a short sprint at Fair Grounds, and a troubled third in a mile race at Churchill.

Finally, Saturday in May broke through in his Aug. 16 win at Arlington, where he overcame the troublesome rail post and a pressured inside trip to draw away late for a 1 1/2-length win in another mile race. "He's been training better than ever since then," Stidham said. "It's been difficult with all the stops and starts he's had. Some continuity should really move him forward."

So, too, might his two-turn and turf debut. Saturday in May is related to many good turf runners, and he probably is better suited to true route races than the elongated, one-turn sprints in which he has recently run.

No Fast Moves, a layoff horse from the Ken McPeek barn, might provide the most competition. In a strong maiden win earlier this summer at Churchill, he beat Slough Creek, who has come back to win two grass races since that place finish.

Albarado leaving town

Jockey Robby Albarado probably would have had a return call on Saturday In May, but Albarado is finished riding at Arlington for this year. Albarado said Sunday he is returning to Kentucky, where he will ride on weekends before resuming full-time work at the Keeneland meet next month. Albarado will ride at Turfway Park this Saturday and travel to Louisiana Downs on Sunday to ride Touch Tone in the Grade 1 Super Derby.

Albarado, who has traditionally gone to Saratoga after the conclusion the Churchill meet in July, instead shifted his tack here this year. Albarado made a big splash during his first two weeks here, and it briefly appeared that he might threaten Rene Douglas for the riding title. But Douglas, who has ridden 90 winners here, gradually reasserted control through August, and now sits comfortably atop the standings.

"I've had a great summer," Albarado said. "It was the best summer I've had in quite awhile."