12/12/2003 1:00AM

Shadowland the latest Team Valor hotshot


FLORENCE, Ky. - Team Valor Stables will have more than one colt pursuing Kentucky Derby prep races when those stakes begin in earnest next year. In addition to Tiger Hunt, the fourth-place finisher from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Team Valor plans to test its unbeaten Shadowland in stakes races for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park.

Shadowland, a son of Distant View purchased privately by Team Valor in Europe after a maiden victory, is being targeted for the Feb. 28 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn after winning an entry-level allowance at Turfway by 1 3/4 lengths Dec. 7. That race was his first race in America and his first start on dirt.

"He has a turf pedigree," said Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor. "With the Triple Crown prep races coming up, we thought we'd look and see what might happen" by running him on dirt.

Shadowland passed the test easily, rallying from off the pace and catching a lone front-runner. He completed a mile in 1:39.13 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 80.

Shadowland, trained by Dale Romans at Turfway, will join Team Valor's new private trainer, Ralph Nicks, for the upcoming Oaklawn Park meeting, Irwin said.

Tiger Hunt will also go to Oaklawn along with 12 to 13 other Team Valor horses, including Added Edge, champion 2-year-old colt in Canada in 2002. Nicks will train most of the Team Valor runners at Oaklawn over the winter, except for the stable's turf horses, who will remain with other trainers in Florida, Irwin said. Oaklawn Park does not have a turf course.

Tiger Hunt is being pointed toward the March 20 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, Irwin said.

Bejarano homing in on record

Eight days into Turfway Park's meet, Rafael Bejarano is fast approaching the record for most victories by a jockey during a holiday meet at Turfway.

Heading into Friday's racing, Bejarano had 23 victories from 70 mounts. The record for most wins by a jockey during Turfway's holiday meet, which runs through Dec. 31, is 39, set by Fabio Arguello in 1991. Bejarano, averaging nearly three wins a card, is on pace to win 63 races, if no days of racing are canceled because of inclement weather or unsafe track conditions.

Bejarano won four races Thursday, the fourth time this meet that he won four races on a card.

"My goal is to learn more and more and more and just to keep going up and up," he said between races Thursday. "My dream is to be racing with the big guys."

Bejarano said he would remain at Turfway to ride the winter-spring meet, which begins Jan. 1.

Romans in the lead

Dale Romans is in a familiar position, atop the trainer standings. After winning the Churchill Downs fall training title with 20 winners from 78 starters, Romans leads the Turfway holiday meet standings.

Romans won three consecutive races on Wednesday, and another race Thursday to push his record to 6 for 13 on the meet. Five of his last six starters have won.

Greg Foley and Randy Morse are tied for second, having trained three winners at Turfway apiece.

Working-class feature

Sunday's card at Turfway is typical of many during the winter, filled with blue-collar runners. The most intriguing race is the ninth, a first-level allowance for 2-year-olds.

Rayvo's Beau and Count Orange, a pair of recent $75,000 claiming winners at Churchill Downs, are part of a full field of sprinters. Also in the race are Man of Conquest, Trust Me, Outfield Shift, and Danieltown.

Ready and Tough heads Gowell

Next Saturday's stakes race at Turfway is the $50,000 Gowell for 2-year-old fillies. Thirty-five were nominated for the six-furlong race, led by likely starter Ready and Tough, a 4 3/4-length allowance winner at Churchill Downs Nov. 16.

A daughter of Good and Tough trained by Paul McGee for owners Jay Em Ess Stable, Ready and Tough has won two straight after finishing second in her debut at Arlington.

All calm at Churchill

Two weeks after the close of the Churchill Downs fall meet, the Churchill backstretch has turned quiet. Most of stables that winter in Florida and Louisiana have already shipped out of town, and other trainers have shifted their horses to Churchill Downs Trackside, which is the winter base for most Louisville-based runners. Churchill's main track will remain open for training until Dec. 31.

Earlier this week Trackside began its late training hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Late training hours provide warmer conditions and help thaw the track surface during freezing temperatures.

Daytime training hours could not thaw the track Friday morning. Wet conditions earlier in the week and cold temperatures Thursday night and Friday morning froze the Trackside surface.