05/27/2006 12:00AM

Several pitfalls in Silverfoot's path


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the North American turf season begins to hit full tilt, there are more than a few good marathoners fairly crying out to strut their stuff.

The $100,000 Louisville Handicap, a Grade 3 fixture to be run Monday at Churchill Downs, seems a fair example of this. Among the six older horses set to run in the 1 3/8-mile turf race, several already have run a bang-up race or two this year, which, despite the light numbers, suggests the Louisville may have one of its best fields in years.

, a Brazilian-bred who will carry high weight of 119 pounds, most recently accounted for a graded victory when upsetting the Grade 3 Elkhorn Stakes last month at Keeneland. Trained by Roger Attfield, Pellegrino was making his first start in more than four months when taking the Elkhorn at 24-1.

Silverfoot finished a fast-closing third in the Elkhorn, but perhaps more importantly, he can claim a glorious history in the Louisville, having won the last two runnings. Trainer Dallas Stewart said he believes the gray gelding comes into the Louisville in perfect shape.

"He's coming into this race better than he did the Elkhorn," said Stewart. "He really has been training well. His work here Tuesday," a five-furlong drill with the "dogs" up on the Churchill turf, "was awesome."

Quest Star, the leading earner in the field with a bankroll of nearly $920,000, looked particularly good in capturing the Louisville prep on May 3. Making his 40th start, but just the first since having come under the care of trainer Neil Howard, Quest Star led most of the way before pulling clear for an impressive victory.

"I was very pleased with that last race," said Howard. "I thought he showed a real nice turn of foot at the end. I know he's always been well-served by the longer races, so the Louisville should be a nice fit for him."

Yet one more legitimate threat in the Louisville is Ramazutti, a Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old who led until the bitter final yards in nearly upsetting the Grade 3 Pan American Handicap on the Florida Derby undercard at Gulfstream.

Rounding out the Louisville cast are Watershed Event and Nolan's Cat, an uncoupled duo owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Dale Romans.

The Louisville, which dates to 1895, goes as the 10th of 11 Monday races. Following the Monday card, Churchill goes dark for two days before live action resumes Thursday.