04/26/2002 11:00PM

Storm Commander goes in strong allowance race on early Derby Week card


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With so many terrific races to be run here later in the week, it only makes sense that some of the less-accomplished horses on the grounds would help fill out the Tuesday card at Churchill Downs.

And while it is true that eight of the 10 races are for claiming horses, the eighth and ninth races are solid allowance races. In fact, the ninth-race feature, a $45,500 allowance sprint for 3-year-olds, attracted Storm Commander, winner of the Hansel Stakes, and shapes up as an appropriate tease for what lies ahead.

Storm Commander, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, is one of six entered in the feature. As good as he was in winning the March 23 Hansel on the Spiral Stakes undercard at Turfway Park, that's how bad he was when he finished far behind Cashel Castle in his only race since then, the April 7 Lafayette at Keeneland.

"That's the one thing we've been looking to overcome with him, his lack of consistency," said Lukas. "Why did he run so bad at Keeneland? I wish I knew. He is a horse with talent, and he's able to throw in a big one every once in a while, like he did at Turfway. If he runs the way he's capable on Tuesday, then he'll be very competitive."

Probably the top opponent in the feature, which is governed by a two-other-than condition, is World Trade, who finished behind Storm Commander in the Hansel, then came back with a so-so effort.

"That's a nice horse," said Lukas. "We beat him at Turfway, but he can run."

Robby Albarado has been named to ride Storm Commander, while Pat Day will be on World Trade for trainer Neil Howard.

The rest of the field is Thunder Boot, Twin Talk, Guernica, and Supremo Secret.

Guernica, trained by Steve Asmussen, is another legitimate contender. A gray colt who won his first two career starts, he finished a solid second behind Still Be Smokin' in a tough allowance race April 13 at Keeneland.

The preceding race, a $42,900 entry-level sprint, drew 10 fillies and mares. Interest Only, trained by Bernie Flint, could be a slight favorite under Day.

First post for the third of 52 spring programs is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

* Trainer Ken McPeek, who has major contenders for the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, got his Churchill meet off to the right start when his first starter, Mythical Brownie, captured the second race Saturday at 12-1.