03/25/2002 12:00AM

Windward Passage may make up for dad's near miss


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Windward Passage is on the verge of earning the chance to take care of some unresolved Kentucky Derby business for his owner, Team Valor Stables, and his sire, Captain Bodgit. The homebred Windward Passage became his sire's first stakes winner Saturday when he captured the Grade 3, $100,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park, earning a place in the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby.

Team Valor, headed by Barry Irwin, raced millionaire Captain Bodgit, who was beaten a head by Silver Charm in the 1997 Kentucky Derby. Windward Passage has a chance to take his connections back to to the Derby this year, depending on his performance in the Arkansas Derby.

Windward Passage is unusual in that he is a Team Valor homebred. The group focuses strictly on racing, but decided to keep three of its fillies for breeding purposes, including $62,490-earner Some Runner, the dam of Windward Passage. "She's a very good-looking mare, and could really run," Irwin said. "She was stakes quality, [but] wound up getting a virus, and almost died."

Some Runner was bred to Captain Bodgit for her first mating, and the result was Windward Passage. The colt is one of two trainer Steve Asmussen will start in the Arkansas Derby. His other representative will be Private Emblem, winner of the $75,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on March 2.

Sweet Sixteen goes for three-peat

Sweet Sixteen is in a good position to secure her third straight win at the meet in the ninth race Wednesday, a six-furlong allowance for 3-year-old fillies worth $41,000. The race has drawn six others, including Texas stakes winners Truly Sunlit and Wild Gear.

Sweet Sixteen has lost just once in three starts this season, her lone defeat coming in her Jan. 26 debut when she finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length by See How She Runs. See How She Runs remained unbeaten last Friday when she romped by eight lengths in a two-turn race.

"Sweet Sixteen is a nice filly," said Bob Holthus, who trains Sweet Sixteen for Iron Horse Racing. "The only filly that beat her was very impressive the other day."

Sweet Sixteen won her maiden in wire-to-wire fashion Feb. 22, then returned to win an entry level allowance March 9 from off the pace. Her versatile running style, as well as the company she has kept, makes her the one to beat Wednesday.

Holthus said the plan is to stretch Sweet Sixteen out around two turns in the $50,000 Althea over a mile at Oaklawn on April 13.

Bidis to bypass Hot Springs

Bidis, who won the $50,000 Hot Springs Stakes last year, will not defend his title in that race Friday but instead will start in the eighth race here Wednesday. If Bidis turns in a good performance in the six-furlong sprint, he will make his turf debut in the $75,000 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland on April 13.

Trainer Sonny Wigginton has long wanted to try Bidis on the turf. "His sire, Gold Spring, has had numerous effective turf horses," said Wigginton. "The foot has a lot to do with some successful racehorses on the grass, and he puts a good turf foot on them. Bidis has that by far."

Bidis has finished a close third in both of his starts this season.

Special daily double

Oaklawn Park will offer a daily double April 6 on its Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom and Grade 1, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap. The races will share a card for the first time on the inaugural "Million Dollar Saturday." The Arkansas Racing Commission approved the wager at a meeting last Saturday. The double will be in addition to the track's early and late double.

During the commission meeting, Oaklawn general manager Eric Jackson said a record fourth purse increase could be in store before the meet is over. The increase will depend on the numbers from last weekend. Attendance last Saturday was 24,777, one of the top three crowds this meet.