06/16/2010 12:00AM

Skipadate logical off near miss


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Folks with a glass-half-full attitude will see the last three weeks of the Churchill Downs spring meet with customary optimism. Although the major events already are in the books, including Stephen Foster Day last weekend, there are still some highlights among the final 12 of 42 dates.

There are the three Fridays of night racing (June 18, June 25, and July 2); a handful of stakes, including the 2-year-old twins, the Debutante and Bashford Manor, and the Firecracker Handicap; and the possibility of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird making his 4-year-old debut in an allowance race tentatively set for July 3.

In the meantime, the show goes on with less gripping fare, such as the nine races on tap for Thursday. The lone allowance of the day is a $56,300, second-level, one-mile turf race that has eight betting interests, with Skipadate likely to be a slight favorite for trainer Dale Romans and jockey Francisco Torres.

Skipadate was beaten by about an inch the last time this same kind of race was run, albeit a furlong farther at 1 1/8 miles.

"That was a tough one," said Romans. "But we were very encouraged by the way he ran, and I'd think he'll be showing the same kind of kick turning back to a mile Thursday."

Classical Closing, stretching out off a victory in a first-level allowance at five furlongs on the turf, should provide more than a sufficient amount of pace in the Thursday feature, the eighth of nine races on a card that starts at 12:45 p.m. Eastern. Trained by Lynn Whiting of Lil E. Tee fame, Classical Closing surely will glide to the early lead after breaking from post 7 under Jamie Theriot.

El Crespo, fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the same May 23 race in which Skipadate was barely beaten by Whirling Fever, is another main player, especially when drawing post 1 with leading jockey Calvin Borel taking over the reins. Au Moon, Insider Tip, and Victory Notion also rate consideration.

The four-day race week begins with carryovers of $3,227 in the $2 pick six (races 4-9) and $7,496 in the super high five (race 9). The next stakes here is the Grade 3, $100,000 Debutante on June 26.