07/04/2006 11:00PM

Top trainers' juveniles square off in stakes


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The usual suspects appear to hold the strongest hands in a pair of 2-year-old graded stakes to be run Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Todd Pletcher has two contenders for both the $150,000 Bashford Manor Stakes and $100,000 Debutante Stakes, while Steve Asmussen has a strong contender for each race. In all, eight or nine colts and geldings are expected for the Grade 2 Bashford Manor, while a similar number of fillies appear likely for the Grade 3 Debutante. Entries were to be drawn Thursday.

Pletcher, the leading trainer in earnings at the spring meet, plans to run Circular Quay and Minefield in the six-furlong Bashford Manor. Both colts were a romping winner of their first and only start, both at Churchill. For the 5 1/2-furlong Debutante, Pletcher will send over Chagall and Come Together, each of whom was favored in winning a maiden race earlier in the meet.

Asmussen will counter in the Bashford Manor with Chace City, a 5 1/4-length winner of the June 18 Victoria Stakes at Woodbine in his last start, and in the Debutante with Richwoman, a 2 1/4-length winner of the May 27 Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood Park in her last start. Both horses are unbeaten in two starts.

The rest of the prospective lineup for the Bashford Manor includes El Poco Diablo, who sports a race-high 88 Beyer Speed Figure, along with Run Alex Run, Shermanesque, Speedway, and possibly Pegasus Wind.

Pegasus Wind is an unraced colt trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who last weekend said the colt is "exceptional."

"I've been around enough good horses to know that he can run," Lukas said.

As for the Debutante, the balance of the probable starters are Gallant Dreamer, Lenaro, Seaside Affair, Spooked, and either of the Tim Hamm-trained duo of Littlebitabling and Magg's Choice.

The twin 2-year-old stakes signal the impending conclusion of the Churchill meet. Only one stakes, the July 15 Locust Grove, will remain after Saturday. The meet ends July 16.

Bushfire to get a break before BC

Bushfire, the Churchill-based filly who has assumed control of the 3-year-old division by virtue of back-to-back victories in the Acorn and Mother Goose at Belmont Park, probably will rest on her laurels for a little while before gearing back up for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Distaff at her home track, said trainer Eddie Kenneally.

"She's the head of the class and has done a lot already this year," said Kenneally. "We'll just try to have a fresh horse for the Breeders' Cup, if we can."

Meanwhile, two other Churchill fillies who ran in the Mother Goose last Saturday returned in good order, according to their trainers.

Dallas Stewart said Tuesday that Lemons Forever, who finished fourth while making her first start since posting a 47-1 upset in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks, is "50-50" to return to Belmont for the July 22 Coaching Club American Oaks. "If not that, it'll be the Alabama" on Aug. 19 at Saratoga, said Stewart. "I thought she ran well Saturday. She was making up a little bit of ground at the end."

Joint Effort, who finished last of seven, most likely will turn back in distance in the seven-furlong Test Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 5, said trainer Dale Romans.

Douglas done for the meet

Veteran jockey Rene Douglas has ridden his last race of the meet. Douglas notified the Churchill stewards that he will begin serving a five-day suspension Friday, during which Douglas plans to return to his home in south Florida to ponder his next move.

Douglas said he has fielded numerous calls from agents asking to take his book for the upcoming Del Mar and Saratoga meets. He said he is more likely to ride at one of those meets than at Arlington, where he was the dominant jockey from 2001-04. He said he wants to continue riding on the same circuit where he resumes, "and I'd prefer that it's California or New York," he said.

Douglas rode almost exclusively for Romans, who is easily the meet's leading trainer. Douglas was having a highly productive Churchill meet until he and Romans had a falling-out last Friday. Douglas won 30 races and his mounts earned more than $1.1 million at the meet. He departed on a winning note Tuesday by riding one winner from three mounts.

The suspension that Douglas is serving stems from the third race on June 10.

Greater Good sets track record

A former Kentucky Derby starter won the Monday feature in track-record time, but it wasn't the heavy favorite, Don't Get Mad, nor the former California star Buddy Gil.

The winner of the $62,500 allowance race was Greater Good, a 12-1 shot who finished the infrequently run distance of 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.97 over a fast track. John McKee was aboard.

Greater Good, trained by Bob Holthus, finished 13th in the 2005 Kentucky Derby. Don't Get Mad, the fourth-place finisher in that same Derby, finished fifth Monday at 3-5 odds. Buddy Gil, the sixth-place finisher in the 2003 Derby, ran sixth and last Monday.

Greater Good snapped a 10-race losing streak with his 2 1/4-length victory. "It was great to see him win like that," said Holthus. "We've decided that his best distance is probably seven furlongs to a mile, so we'll be looking around for those kinds of races."

Don't Get Mad and Buddy Gil both were coming off an extended layoff. Both horses returned in good shape, their connections said.

Partial interest in Bright One sold

A partial interest has been sold in Bright One, the 3-year-old colt who earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in a June 17 maiden victory.

Mike and Carolyn Bruder, the breeders and original owners, sold the interest to Delmar Daubs. Both the Daubs and the Bruders are longtime breeders and owners from the Evansville, Ind., area.

* After a meet-long slump, John Jacinto finally broke loose with three victories here Monday. Jacinto, the leading rider at the 2006 Oaklawn Park meet, had struggled with just four wins from his first 142 mounts before winning with each of his first three Monday mounts.

* Trainer Ken McPeek has been fined $4,000 for the mix-up of 2-year-old fillies that led to a late scratch on June 24. Moose's Glory was scheduled to race, but when Rapidian was brought over, the mistake was discovered by horse identifier Barbara Borden.

* Three jockey agents were fined over the weekend for what the stewards termed "failure to conduct their business in a proper manner," or failing to ride horses for trainers whom they had given calls. Terry Miller and Julio Espinoza were fined $250 each, while Steve Bass, the agent for leading rider Julien Leparoux, was fined $500.