02/05/2004 1:00AM

Two turns next out for Capac


Capac, a sharp winner of an entry-level allowance sprint Wednesday at Laurel Park, will make his next start in a two-turn race at a track yet to be determined, said trainer Mike Bell.

Bell, who accompanied Capac on a nine-hour van ride from Maryland on Thursday as they returned to their winter base in Camden, S.C., said he would "have to start looking at what we're going to do next," said Bell.

"Ideally," Bell said, "we'd be on a once-a-month schedule" with an eye toward to the Kentucky Derby. "Something around two turns in early March, then maybe one of the big prep races in April. If I didn't think this horse could make the Derby, I wouldn't be thinking that way."

Capac, ridden by Jeremy Rose, broke slowly against six overmatched rivals in Wednesday's seven-furlong race at Laurel. He quickly made up ground leaving the backstretch, then sustained his run to draw off by 3 3/4 lengths in 1:23.17 over a fast track. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 84.

Bell, who has been training for more than 25 years after serving as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Frank Whiteley, said that he was pleased with the race and that he was not overly concerned with the poor start. Capac was away poorly before finishing third in his career debut last October at Keeneland, then had an uneventful start when he easily won a maiden sprint at Churchill Downs in late November, his only other race before Wednesday.

"He might not ever be a good gate horse," said Bell. "He's probably got more pull in front than push in behind. What matters most is how he goes. He's smooth is what he is."

Bell said Capac would continue training at the one-mile Camden Training Center at least until after the next race. At some point after that, Bell will ship the colt to the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, Ky., where Bell hails from.

Bell said Capac most likely will run his next two races somewhere other than Florida because of climate. "It's been nice and cool in Camden, and I don't want to go to a place that's a lot warmer," he said.

Capac, a chestnut colt by Deputy Minister, is owned primarily by Dr. John Fike, a retired Ohio physician. In December, Fike sold a quarter-interest for a mid-six-figure sum to prominent New Jersey owner Richard Santulli, whose horses race under Jayeff B Stable.