11/11/2005 1:00AM

T.D. Vance learns to mellow out

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T.D. Vance at Saratoga under Todd Kabel, who taught him how to rate.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Graham Motion claims that T.D. Vance had "a little problem" with being rank early in his career. Now, really, with 5 wins from 8 career starts, how serious could the problem have been?

"Once he got the hang of things, he's been very impressive," conceded Motion.

Indeed, T.D. Vance has put his considerable speed to optimum use while developing into one of the best 3-year-old turf horses in North America this year. Although he has thrown in a couple of clunkers - a fading fourth-place finish in the Woodlawn Stakes on the May 21 Preakness undercard at Pimlico being the most relevant example - T.D. Vance has been as solid as hickory in recent months, having reeled off three straight stakes wins.

The winning streak, combined with the presence of John Velazquez in the saddle, seems to ensure that T.D. Vance will be the favorite Sunday in the Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.

"It was a matter of him nursing that speed and stretching it out," said Motion, who trains T.D. Vance, a gelding by Rahy, for the Courtlandt Farms of Donald Adam. "He's a very fast horse, so seeing him progress the way he has, that's been very satisfying."

Motion credited Canadian jockey Todd Kabel with teaching T.D. Vance his most important lessons. Kabel rode the gelding to victories in the Toronto Cup at Woodbine and the Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

"He really turned the corner for Todd," said Motion.

Kenneally is Florida-bound

Shortly after the Churchill meet ends Nov. 26, trainer Eddie Kenneally will ship his entire stable to the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida, where Kenneally will have a 20-stall allotment. With stable earnings of more than $800,000, much of it earned by Kelly's Landing and Catcominatcha, Kenneally is having his most productive year since running his first horse in the United States, in 1993.

"It has been a very good year for us," said Kenneally, a 39-year-old native of Ireland.

Catcominatcha, winner of the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes last weekend, is set for the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on closing day, said Kenneally.

Kelly's Landing, who set the Churchill track for six furlongs (1:07.59) in winning the Grade 3 Aristides in June, is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing knee surgery. Kelly's Landing was injured when finishing well back of Pomeroy in the Aug. 13 Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga.

"The knee looks so good right now that you'd have to think he'll be back as good as ever," said Kenneally.

Borel to skip his usual vacation

Jockey Calvin Borel was back riding Friday after taking off his two scheduled mounts Thursday to be examined by a chiropractor. Borel was experiencing back pain after being in a spill in the last race Tuesday.

Borel, who normally takes December as a vacation month after Churchill ends, is not doing so this year, said agent Jerry Hissam. "We're going to Louisiana Downs, then Oaklawn," said Hissam.

Grade 3 turf stakes next on schedule

The next round of Churchill stakes are twin turf races for older horses, and both figure to draw big fields, said racing secretary Doug Bredar. Both are Grade 3 handicaps run at 1 1/8 miles, with purses of $150,000.

The Cardinal, for fillies and mares, will be run next Saturday, followed the next day by the River City for males.