05/02/2002 12:00AM

Snow Ridge likes track


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Mike Smith may be longshots with Proud Citizen in the Kentucky Derby, but they will be the favorites to win the $150,000, seven-furlong Churchill Downs Handicap with Snow Ridge on Saturday's Kentucky Derby undercard.

Snow Ridge comes off a disappointing performance in Aqueduct's Grade 1 Carter Handicap after dominating the sprint division in California this winter with victories in the El Conejo, Palos Verdes, and Grade 1 San Carlos handicaps. In the Palos Verdes, Snow Ridge easily defeated Breeders' Cup and Eclipse Award winner Squirtle Squirt.

"I don't think the track played that fair in New York the day of the Carter, and Mike said after they'd run 100 yards he knew he didn't have a shot," said Lukas. "[Snow Ridge] hated that track but he loves this one."

Snow Ridge has won two of his three starts at Churchill Downs.

Snow Ridge is the horse to catch in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap, although D'wildcat doesn't figure to be far behind, especially since he will be equipped with blinkers for the first time.

D'wildcat was laid up nearly a year because of a shoulder injury after a sensational 10-length victory in Gulfstream Park's Swale Stakes at 3. He has finished second and fourth in his two starts since returning to action in early March.

"He was flat in each of his last two starts but he's been tearing the barn down ever since. I expect him to come up with something similar to the Swale on Saturday," said Hess.

The field for the Churchill Downs Handicap is a strong one that also features Ceeband, Dream Run, Kings Command, Crafty Shaw, Twilight Road, Storm Craft, and Accelerant.

Citgo Distaff Turf Mile: A Drysdale shot

Trainer Neil Drysdale wanted to run Sunday Break in the Kentucky Derby, but the colt failed to make the 20-horse cutoff.

Drysdale wanted to run Bella Bellucci in the Kentucky Oaks, but the filly wasn't 100 percent, so Drysdale scratched her.

So while he's still here for the weekend, wouldn't Drysdale like a little consolation prize?

"Do I need one?" he asked playfully. "Maybe by the end of the year. Maybe a booby prize."

In any case, Drysdale still has a few bullets left, including Freefourracing in the $100,000 Citgo Distaff Turf Mile. Now 4, Freefourracing was considered a budding star in the fall of her 2-year-old season before encountering "soundness problems" that led to two lengthy layoffs.

As one of 10 fillies and mares entered in the Distaff Turf Mile, the sixth race on the Derby card, Freefourracing seems to rate as good a chance as any in the well-matched field. A French Deputy filly whose last race came in the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita in December, Freefourracing has trained smartly in recent weeks, said Drysdale.

"Hopefully we're on the right track with her now," he said.

Dianehill, with Pat Day to ride, and Ever With You, who set a Churchill course record here last fall, are among the other logical contenders. Stylish, a highly consistent filly trained by Bill Mott, also figures in the mix.

Other starters in the Citgo are Zeta, No Deadline, Grey Ballet, Salty Farma, Sitka, and La Recherche. Zeta and Dianehill are coupled for wagering purposes.

Three Chimneys: Swift filly, swift colt

A classic matchup between a swift filly and a rocketship of a colt makes the $100,000 Three Chimneys Juvenile an intriguing highlight of the undercard.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas frequently has sent out his fillies to defeat the boys, with the likes of Althea, Lady's Secret, Serena's Song, and, in the Kentucky Derby, Winning Colors. He will saddle Holiday Runner - a Meadowlake filly who romped by 6 3/4 lengths in her lone start last month at Keeneland - in the five-furlong Juvenile. She was timed in 51.55 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs.

"She's very live," Lukas said outside his Churchill Downs barn. "She might be really special."

Jerry Bailey, who rode Holiday Runner in her debut, is back aboard.

The colt Holiday Runner must get past is Posse, a son of Silver Deputy who overwhelmed his rivals in his debut at Keeneland, winning by 13 1/2 lengths in 51.43 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs.

Posse benefits by breaking from post 3 in the 14-horse field, with Holiday Runner starting from post 10. With a relatively short run to the turn, Posse has the better post.

Another filly, Hollywood Honey, could make her presence felt if she starts. She was a dazzling 3 1/2-length winner in a two-furlong race at Santa Anita, in which she was timed in a swift 21.43 seconds. Trainer Wesley Ward said Hollywood Honey came out of a recent workout "a little off," but said she is "perfect now" and that nothing showed on precautionary X-rays.

"She's such a nice filly. I want to make sure everything's perfect before she runs," Ward said.

Uriah's Beginning ships in from Delta Downs, where he was fourth in the Jean Laffitte Futurity last time out. That race frequently has produced winners of this race, so he bears watching.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee and Jay Privman