05/10/2005 11:00PM

'Theatrics' again gets top billing

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Except for maybe Neil Howard, nobody likes No Theatrics more than the racing public. In six starts, No Theatrics has been the favorite all but once, and when the feature race is run Friday evening at Churchill Downs, fans will be standing in the mutuel lines with funds in hand, eager to show their support once again.

Consistency, if not necessarily brilliance, has been a hallmark in the nascent career of , a 3-year-old Theatrical colt bred and owned by Dorothy Long. Before and after he won a maiden race in his second career start at Fair Grounds in January, No Theatrics has registered two seconds, two thirds, and a fourth, all in two-turn races on grass.

Ten horses were entered to oppose No Theatrics in the ninth of 10 races on a Friday that is the first twilight card of the Churchill spring meet (first post, 2:45 p.m. Eastern). Only as many as eight will start, however, since three horses have been designated as "main track only," and the race is scheduled to be run at a mile on turf.

Howard, whose stable is off to a terrific start at the meet, alternately has expressed hope and frustration about No Theatrics, who was fourth as the 8-5 favorite in his most recent start, a May 1 turf allowance run under the same one-other-than condition that governs the Friday feature.

"He's a nice colt, but obviously I'd like to get him over the hump one of these days," said Howard.

Along with No Theatrics, who has been assigned post 2 with Robby Albarado named, the other main contender in the Friday feature is Saturday Deelites. Although has not raced in more than six months, his lone turf try was very encouraging: He finished second, beaten just a neck, after making a strong move to the lead in an Oct. 28 allowance on the Keeneland turf course.

Outside possibilities include , who makes his grass debut with a strong 337 Tomlinson turf rating, and He's Mine, a Carl Nafzger-trained gelding who stands to improve off his first grass try last month at Keeneland.

With the late start to the program, the feature is set for 6:50 p.m. Twilight racing will be in effect for every Friday card of the meet.