05/20/2004 11:00PM

Short price for a Cal shipper

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With cross-country travel cost prohibitive, horses are shipped infrequently to Kentucky from California for a non-stakes race. The exceptions are generally those making permanent moves, or those that figure to start as overwhelming favorites.

Salcombe falls into the second category. Twice second at Santa Anita this spring, he looms a short-priced favorite in Sunday's seventh race at Churchill Downs, an entry-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

When Salcombe went out for a routine gallop Friday morning, his Southern California-based trainer, Wally Dollase, was on the Churchill backstretch, monitoring his progress. Dollase said he felt the race and Churchill's turf course would suit his horse, whom he purchased from Juddmonte Farm at a Tattersalls auction last fall.

Trips to Kentucky for allowances are not uncommon for Dollase. Two years ago, he brought Good Journey to Churchill from his base at Hollywood Park, and a confidence-building allowance win helped set him up for victories in the Firecracker and Atto Mile later that year.

Dollase will be represented with runners all across the country next month. A.P. Adventure, most recently sixth in the Kentucky Oaks, is being pointed for the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks, and graded stakes winner Irish Warrior is being targeted for the Charlie Whittingham Memorial Handicap. Both races are June 12 at Hollywood. Meteor Storm will race next in the Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 5, Dollase said.

It's Awesome Baby will run for tag

Trainer Steve Margolis has trained for a number of prominent owners, such as Satish Sanan of Padua Stable and University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. Basketball commentator Dick Vitale is now a part of the team.

It's Awesome Baby, a 3-year-old colt owned in partnership by Pitino, Joe Iracane, and Vitale, recently joined the Margolis barn. A "diaper dandy" to begin his career - winning his debut at Calder last July - It's Awesome Baby has been outrun in five races since, finishing no closer than fourth. Margolis plans to run him at Churchill in a $50,000 claimer.

Cajun Beat, Margolis's star sprinter, resumed training this week at Sanan's Padua Farm in Florida, his first activity since finishing fourth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Margolis said he would like to prep Cajun Beat in two races leading up to the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Those races have not been determined.

No takers for Seattle Slew colt

Buyers have been known to spend six- or seven-figure sums to acquire a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. As recently as 2000, one of his colts - Distinction - was sold for $4.2 million.

Yet in Thursday's first race, no one wished to claim Ugotta, a 2-year-old Seattle Slew colt who won at first asking in a maiden $30,000 claiming race. Trained by James Hartley and owned by Donald Dizney, Ugotta was bred by Dizney and Seattle Slew's owners, Karen and Mickey Taylor. He won by three lengths, racing five furlongs in 1:00.12.

Seattle Slew, who died in May 2002, had health problems late in life that limited his fertility and covers. According to The Jockey Club, Ugotta is one of just 41 Seattle Slew foals from his final three crops. Of those 41 - four are now yearlings, 32 are 2-year-olds, and five are 3-year-olds.

Roger Brand, general manager for Dizney's Double Diamond Farm in Florida, said Ugotta was started for a $30,000 claiming price due to conformation issues.

"He did a lot better than we thought he would," Brand said. "I don't think you'll see him in at that level again."

Roses in May: Bigger things ahead

Roses in May may have run himself out of town by winning a three-other-than allowance by five lengths Friday.

Ken Ramsey, who owns the colt with his wife, Sarah, said Roses in May will be pointed toward the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows on July 3 and later the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 7. Those races are tests to see if Roses in May merits being raced in the Breeders' Cup in the fall, he said.

Roses in May ($2.20) was never threatened in Friday's third race, taking command from the start and running 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.40.

Aristides next for Cloud Walker

Cloud Walker, who withstood a blistering pace to win a $54,450 allowance on Thursday, is likely to make his next start in the Grade 3 Aristides Breeders' Cup at Churchill on June 19, trainer Tom Amoss said.

In winning Thursday's race - his second straight victory - Cloud Walker outran a number of talented sprinters, including stakes winners Mountain General and Clock Stopper. Mountain General won the 2003 Aristides.

"He's the best-looking horse I've ever trained," said Amoss. "He is over 16 hands, maybe a shade under 17, and muscled. He is not some tall giraffe."

His size was apparent in Thursday's allowance victory. Pressing the speedy Strength and Honor into fractions of 20.94 seconds and 43.53, he towered over that rival, and Cloud Walker's long strides through the lane proved too much for his opponents. He won by three-quarters of a length over Mountain General, racing six furlongs in 1:09.32.

McPeek barn loaded for bear

Despite the ease of Best Minister's 4 3/4-length allowance victory in Thursday's eighth race, trainer Ken McPeek would prefer not to leap back into a stakes with him just yet. Winner of the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico last year at age 3, he remains eligible for a three-other-than allowance.

McPeek will still remain active in stakes in the coming weeks. He has J Town pointed for the Northern Dancer, Galloping Gal scheduled for the Regret, and Prince Arch targeting the Jefferson Cup. All three stakes are on the Stephen Foster undercard on June 12.

He said New Famous, a top Brazilian 3-year-old, would soon join his stable after clearing quarantine in Florida. To date, McPeek has successfully trained a number of stakes-quality Brazilian runners, led by Grade 1 winner Hard Buck.

Hard Buck is scheduled to breeze Tuesday, his first work since running second in the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic. His summer goal is the July 4 Stars and Stripes Handicap at Arlington, McPeek said.