05/26/2004 11:00PM

Stablemates complement each other


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - So much rain pounded the Louisville area the past week that the Churchill Downs turf course was expected to retain moisture long past the rainfall's end, however far in the future that might be. This ongoing development may have an effect on the Saturday feature, the Early Times Mint Julep . . . or it may not.

"I don't know whether or not Sand Springs will like a course with give to it," said Tony Reinstedler, trainer of Sand Springs. "That's the big, big question about her this weekend. I'm looking for a big race because she's trained extremely well, but that kind of surface is going to be something new for her."

, a late-running Wild Again filly he said should "really like ground with some give to it. She loves soft ground. The good thing about them is their styles complement each other. They don't get in each other's way."

Sand Springs (post 8) and Aud (post 9), both owned by Willmott Stables, will be uncoupled for wagering purposes in the Mint Julep. Reinstedler said it was very likely that neither filly would be scratched, as frequently occurs when a trainer enters more than one horse for the same owner.

Besides the Willmott pair, the Mint Julep also drew (post 7), the upset winner of the Grade 3 Argent Mortgage on the May 1 Kentucky Derby undercard. Shaconage was up in the final jump to defeat heavily favored Etoile Montante in the Argent to give her trainer, Mitch Shirota, his first Churchill stakes win.

One other notable in the field of nine is (post 5), a Bobby Frankel-trained invader who will be ridden by Pat Day. Eternal Melody, a 4-year-old New Zealand-bred, will be making her U.S. debut after being trained in recent weeks at Hollywood Park.

The rest of the Mint Julep field is River Flower, Two Dot Slew, Stay Forever, Daisyago, and Kitty's Legend.

The Mint Julep is carded as the ninth of 10 Saturday races. One allowance race also is on tap. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

Churchill is hosting an infield festival for children during all three cards throughout the Memorial Day weekend.