05/07/2006 11:00PM

'Sky High' looks best in feature


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Nobody left any parting gifts this year. While Kentucky Derby visitors the last few years have left robust pick-six carryovers for everyday players at Churchill Downs to shoot at, that wasn't the case Saturday, when Barbaro ended a pick six worth $114,516 for each $2 winner.

And thus begins the post-Derby segment of the 2006 spring meet at Churchill, which still has more than two months to run. The Stephen Foster Super Saturday program on June 17 will be the high point, but the brand of racing before and after that is worth looking into, too.

The Wednesday card looks typical of the weekday fare that Churchill racing secretary Doug Bredar and his staff will offer, with a $54,000 turf allowance serving as the feature on a nine-race card that also includes two maiden special-weight races and is otherwise filled out by claiming events.

The eighth-race feature, which carries a first-level allowance condition and will be run at one mile, figures to have a solid favorite in , a Bobby Frankel-trained filly who competed several times in group races in Ireland last year. In her first and only start since being shipped here to Frankel, the 4-year-old British-bred was narrowly beaten by Louve Royale in an April 9 allowance at Keeneland. Louve Royale then finished a close second in her next start, the Bewitch Stakes.

Among the other logical challengers in the Wednesday feature is , part of the 36-horse contingent that trainer Todd Pletcher left behind at Churchill with assistant Mike "Whitey" McCarthy.

The Wednesday card marks the return to training by Tom Bohannan, who won back-to-back runnings of the Preakness in 1992-93 with Pine Bluff and Prairie Bayou. Bohannan, who gave up training about eight years ago to work outside the racing industry, returns with a maiden, Sea of Trees, in the fourth race.

Wednesday begins Churchill's weekly handicapping contest, which allows players to qualify for the July 12 finals, in which berths to the National Handicapping Finals in January in Las Vegas will be at stake. The weekly contests have been moved to the Joe Hirsch Media Center on the sixth floor.

First post daily is 1:15 p.m. except Fridays, when twilight first post is at 2:45.

In stark contrast to opening week, when a torrent of 15 stakes was capped by the 132nd Derby, the lone stakes scheduled for the upcoming weekend is Saturday's $100,000 Open Mind, for 3-year-old fillies at five furlongs on the turf.