11/16/2004 12:00AM

Shaconage tries to add Cardinal to her feats


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Shaconage, already a two-time graded stakes winner over the Churchill Downs turf course this year, was one of a handful of horses prepping for the coming weekend stakes when she breezed a half-mile Tuesday morning in 50.60 seconds over a grass course rated good.

Shaconage, sixth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in her last start, will be among the favorites Saturday when the Grade 3, $150,000 Cardinal Handicap is run for the 31st time. Shaconage won the Argent Mortgage and Locust Grove at the spring meet for trainer Mitch Shirota.

Others likely for the 1 1/8-mile Cardinal include Classic Stamp, Beret, May Gator, Chance Dance, Fun House, Angela's Love, Nannycam, and either Aud or Mymich.

The Cardinal's brother race, the $150,000 River City Handicap, is the Sunday feature, and it also is expected to get a sizable cast. Honor in War, with Pat Day to ride, is the probable starting highweight in a field that also may include Quest Star, Rochester, Warleigh, Ay Caramba, Gretchen's Star, Dumaani Star, False Promises, G P Fleet, and French Lieutenant.

Honor in War breezed Tuesday over the Churchill turf, going a half-mile in 48.80.

Superfecta pools exceed guarantees

They're getting it done - just barely, in some cases, but getting it done nonetheless. Except for opening day, Oct. 31, Churchill horseplayers have been betting enough to exceed the track's minimum guaranteed pool in the sixth-race superfecta each day.

The $100,000 guarantee on weekend cards has been tougher to meet than on weekdays, when the guarantee is just $50,000. Pools last Saturday and Sunday were just $102,198 and $102,878. The average sixth-race super pool during the preceding three weekdays was about $84,000.

The only shortfall came opening day, when Churchill had to make up about $16,000 to get to the $100,000 level. Churchill said the promotion has been a major success, with average handle on the sixth-race superfecta increasing from an average of $54,828 last year to $94,734 this meet.

The largest payoff has been $49,013 on a $2 bet.

Day, McKee co-leaders

With Rafael Bejarano, Robby Albarado, and some of the other top Churchill jockeys banned since Nov. 10 because of the jockey-insurance dispute, the fall standings have assumed a different look than they might have otherwise.

With nine of 21 days left, perennial champion Pat Day and 23-year-old John McKee were tied atop the standings with 15 wins each, followed by apprentice Brian Hernandez Jr. with 10.

Albarado may ride at Fair Grounds

Lenny Pike, agent for Albarado, said the jockey recently had a telephone conversation with new Fair Grounds president Randy Soth about Albarado starting back at the Fair Grounds meet that begins next Thursday, Nov. 25.

Under guidelines set forth by Churchill Downs Inc. officials last week, any of the 14 banned jockeys wishing to compete at a CDI track will be required to give assurances to the track president that they do not intend to disrupt business. Fair Grounds is a CDI track.

Pike said Albarado is eager to return to action and "is looking forward to meeting with Randy."

Gill-Shuman score first local win

Michael Gill and Mark Shuman have made big news in racing the last couple of years. The owner-trainer team set all kinds of records at the 2003 Gulfstream Park meet while also winning in a big way at other venues.

But their first foray into Churchill Downs came Sunday, when Worldwind Romance ran in an overnight handicap on the turf. With Ryan Fogelsonger in from Maryland to ride, Worldwind Romance prevailed by a neck, making Gill and Shuman instant successes at Churchill.

Neither Gill nor Shuman was here. Steve Margolis saddled Worldwind Romance, who was shipped in from the southeastern Pennsylvania training facility where most of the Gill-Shuman horses are based.