11/12/2007 1:00AM

Two show a spark

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - If being "due" actually applies in horse racing, then jockey John McKee and trainer Jamie Sanders finally got what was coming to them Sunday at Churchill Downs.

McKee has not been winning at anything close to his 2003 and 2004 standards, when his mounts earned more than $6 million each year, while Sanders has struggled mightily this year with a large stable, winning with just five of her first 243 starters.

Their misery was halted at least temporarily Sunday, when Sanders and McKee teamed to win the second race with Capetown Evening, a 3-year-old filly who narrowly emerged best following a stretch-long duel with Crowd Diva in the $50,000 maiden-claiming race.

"I needed that," McKee said afterward. Indeed, the victory was his first from 27 mounts at a meet that began Oct. 28. Losing has not been the norm for McKee. With 67 wins and $1.46 million in earnings, he is on par for his lowest totals in each category since he began riding in 2002. McKee was the leading rider at the 2004 Churchill fall meet, although that comes with an asterisk because about 14 jockeys walked out that fall over a labor dispute.

"This is a game of cycles," said McKee, 26. "I'm not discouraged. I've done everything I can possibly do to get my business going again, so I'm not getting down on myself. Sooner or later, it'll all be fine."

Sanders said she and her fiance, Donnie Kelly, have resolved a longstanding, highly acrimonious dispute with former business partner Gary Logsdon, having recently dissolved the association in about 15 horses they had owned together. The partnership still owns Teuflesberg, the colt who still is recovering in Lexington after fracturing his sesamoids last month in the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland.

Teuflesberg accounted for two wins this year for Sanders, both in stakes, and after winning a maiden-claiming race last week at Hoosier Park with Sonoran Desert and the Sunday victory by Capetown Evening, the stable's 2007 record stood at seven wins from 247 starts.

Sanders and Kelly were at Hoosier Park on Saturday when one of their horses, Sir Paul Thau, was beaten a nose in the first race, "so winning this race was great for us," said Sanders, a former longtime exercise rider and assistant to Nick Zito, as she watched a replay of the Capetown Evening victory. "Hopefully we've got some good karma in the barn now. It would be great to start winning more races like this."

Argentina tops Cardinal weights

Argentina, ninth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in her last start, is expected to be the starting highweight Saturday when the highlight of the coming week, the $150,000 Cardinal Handicap, is run at 1 1/8 miles on the Churchill turf.

Trained by Bobby Frankel, Argentina has raced exclusively in Grade 1 company this year, having also run in the Diana and Flower Bowl in New York. She has been assigned 120 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman.

Other probables for the Grade 3 Cardinal include Criminologist, 119 pounds; Quiet Royal, 117; Candy Ball, 115; Love Handles, 115; Nottawasaga, 115; and Mama I'm Home, 113. Several others are listed as possible starters by the Churchill racing office. Entries will be drawn Wednesday.

The Sunday feature will be the $100,000 Mariah's Storm for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf.

After this week, only four days (Nov. 21-24) will remain at the 21-day stand, but it's the richest stretch of the meet. Among the five stakes to be run are the $300,000 Falls City Handicap on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, and the $500,000 Clark Handicap on Nov. 23.

Slew's Tiznow to go in KJC

Slew's Tiznow, scratched from the BC Juvenile with a fever after finishing second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, will race next in the $250,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on closing day, according to Dr. Greg Fox, the colt's new trainer.

Fox assumed the training of Slew's Tiznow from Patrick Biancone, who recently dispersed his stable while starting a one-year suspension. Fox, based on a private farm adjacent to the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, brought Slew's Tiznow on Sunday morning to Churchill, where the colt breezed six furlongs in 1:14.60 under Julien Leparoux.

"I got the colt Oct. 29, and he was already fine by then," said Fox. "I've been very pleased with him. His work was real nice. It was all I needed to see."

Noonmark gets a win

Noonmark won for the first time since February 2006, blazing six furlongs in 1:08.84 in a Sunday allowance race. The 4-year-old colt by Unbridled's Song has faced some strong company in his 12-race career, including Sharp Humor and Songster, both retired.

"It's about his turn to win a stake," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "That's what I want to do with him.

Noonmark earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 in his 4 1/2-length win.