04/20/2008 11:00PM

Two star fillies still possible for Derby or Oaks


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs officials are listing at least 11 fillies, including the Larry Jones-trained duo of Proud Spell and Eight Belles, as prospective starters for the May 2 Kentucky Oaks.

Both Jones fillies breezed over the Keeneland Polytrack on Sunday and are scheduled to be shipped Friday to Churchill, where they will have their final prerace workouts this coming Sunday. Proud Spell went a leisurely half-mile in 50.20 seconds, while Eight Belles zipped the same distance in 46.60 seconds.

Brereton Jones and Rick Porter, the respective owners of Proud Spell and Eight Belles, have said their fillies are under consideration for both the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.

With jockeys, here are the known candidates for the Grade 1, $500,000 Oaks: A to the Croft, Calvin Borel; Awesome Chic, Irwin Rosendo; Bsharpsonata, Eric Camacho; Country Star, Rafael Bejarano; Eight Belles, Ramon Dominguez; Golden Doc A, Kent Desormeaux; Highest Class, Robby Albarado; Honest Pursuit, Garrett Gomez; Little Belle, Rajiv Maragh; Proud Spell, Gabriel Saez; and Pure Clan, Edgar Prado.

Pure Clan, recently purchased in part by the prominent syndicate IEAH Stable, breezed a half-mile Sunday at Churchill in 49.60 seconds for trainer Bob Holthus. Prado, who rides frequently for IEAH, replaces Julien Leparoux, who so far has been the filly's only jockey.

Churchill officials said it would not be surprising if several more Oaks fillies surfaced by the time entries are taken next Tuesday. The field for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks is limited to 14, based on graded earnings.

A day with no stakes race

A day without a stakes race at the Keeneland spring meet in Lexington is like - to borrow a phrase from the late turf writer Mike Barry - a White Castle hamburger with more than one pickle chip.

That is, it's rare. In fact, the Wednesday card is the only one at the 16-day meet without a stakes, so fans will have to be satisfied with a $65,000 classified allowance as the featured race 8 on a nine-race card.

Seven seasoned sprinters will travel 6 1/2 furlongs in the race, which is governed by a money-won condition, along with a $100,000 claiming option. Korbyn Gold, trained by Mike Maker, would be the obvious horse to beat if he can duplicate the career-high 107 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in winning the St. Patrick's Day Handicap at Turfway Park. Leparoux has the call on Korbyn Gold.

Other viable threats in the Wednesday feature include Last Gran Standing, unraced since getting a 99 Beyer in a victory on the Keeneland Polytrack last fall, and Winyah, who makes an interesting move out of a turf route for trainer Ralph Nicks.

Pletcher grabs trainer lead

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher has won just one training title at Keeneland, but it was a record-setter. Pletcher sent out 16 winners at the 2006 spring meet, breaking the previous record of 14.

With only three days left in the 2008 spring meet, a recent flurry of winners has catapulted Pletcher to the top of the standings with 11 wins entering Wednesday's races. Pletcher won four races Saturday, tying a Keeneland record set in 1995 by Bill Mott for most wins on a card, and although he is unlikely to equal his record of two years ago, he has dead aim on his second title. Mott, with seven wins, is second at the meet.

Meanwhile, Desormeaux, with 18 wins, seems well on his way to his first Keeneland jockey title.

Bewitch attracts 12

Twelve fillies and mares are entered in the Grade 3, $150,000 Grey Goose Bewitch, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that anchors a nine-race Thursday card. Among contenders in the well-matched field are Tejida, Communique, Palmilla, and Viva La Flag.

The closing-day feature here Friday is the "brother" race to the Bewitch, the Grade 2, $200,000 Fifth Third Elkhorn for male turf marathoners.

What were the odds?

Call it irony, or serendipity, or a huge coincidence, but what were the odds of a horse by Chapel Royal winning a race named the Chapel Royal?

That's exactly what happened Saturday at Keeneland when Royal Card, a 2-year-old filly by Chapel Royal, won the third race for Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez. The winner was the first for the sire, whose first crop are 2-year-olds.

* Carriage Trail, the upset winner of the Doubledogdare Stakes on Friday at Keeneland, is scheduled to return to New York sometime this week, said trainer Shug McGaughey. With Desormeaux up, Carriage Trail led all the way in winning the Doubledogdare while Panty Raid, the even-money favorite for Pletcher, faded to last.

* The Saturday crowd of 26,072 narrowly eclipsed the 26,000 that turned out the previous Saturday, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes Day, for highest attendance of the meet. Cool and overcast weather kept the Saturday crowd from being even bigger. Last year on Lexington Day, amid ideal weather, an all-time Keeneland record of 33,821 turned out.

* Dubious Miss, a 4-year-old gelding, earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure when he barely missed the Keeneland Polytrack record for 1o1/16 miles Sunday. Ridden by Calvin Borel, Dubious Miss won by a neck in 1:41.79, just .09 off the mark set at the 2006 fall meet by Sadler's Trick.

* Majestic Warrior is among the likely starters in the $100,000 Derby Trial, the 7 1/2-furlong race that helps to open the Churchill spring meet on Saturday. Majestic Warrior, trained by Mott, won the Grade 1 Hopeful last summer at Saratoga but has been disappointing in three subsequent races.

* Kathleen Voor Montano, a prominent Louisville judge who was the wife of horse owner Joe Montano, died Monday at age 46. Joe Montano is the son of veteran trainer Angel Montano Sr.