12/09/2005 1:00AM

Woods savors first win in a while


Only one maiden was officially "broken" when Dicey Cat, a 2-year-old filly, wired the field in Wednesday's third race at Turfway Park. It just didn't seem that way to her veteran rider, Charlie Woods Jr.

Woods joked Friday, two days after scoring his first victory since returning from a hiatus of over two years, that he felt as if he, too, had broken his maiden - at the age of 55.

Of course, Woods, with 2,858 victories, "broke his maiden" long ago in a career that has spanned nearly 30 years in the saddle. But the win he picked up Friday was exciting, he said, and an important step if he is to regain horsemen's support after being away from riding since March 2003.

The win came in his 12th mount back since he resumed riding Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. It marked his first win as a jockey since he rode Kiss Me Goodbye to a victory at Turfway on March 28, 2003.

Woods, who announced his retirement in 2003 because of a herniated disk in his neck, seemed as eager as a bug rider when he climbed back into the saddle for the weekend's races, despite the frigid conditions at Turfway.

"It's the Winter Olympics," he quipped.

With Distinction favored in allowance feature

A total of 110 horses, plus 12 also-eligibles, were entered for Sunday's 10-race card at Turfway, continuing a trend of large fields that has been common in Kentucky this fall.

Even the featured ninth race, a $32,000 allowance contested with no conditions, drew a reasonably sized field of eight, led by a couple of horses, With Distinction and Yucatan, who are coming off triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.

With Distinction, a Storm Cat 4-year-old owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, looms the favorite following a runner-up finish to Strength and Honor in the Distorted Humor Handicap at Churchill on Nov. 25. That race earned him a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

Although winless in three starts over the Polytrack surface at Turfway in September, With Distinction performed well over the surface every time. In each of those three races, he was never beaten more than 1 3/4 lengths.

Eddie Martin Jr., who in the past had ridden the Fair Grounds meet in New Orleans, has the mount at Turfway aboard With Distinction.

Yucatan is not as established in stakes as With Distinction, but appears similarly fast. He has earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in three of his last four starts, including a win over the Polytrack surface in October. In his last race Nov. 27, he won an allowance at Mountaineer Race Track by seven lengths, posting a 102 Beyer. Lori Wydick rides for trainer Sherman Mitchell.

A good card also supports the feature, with the eighth race being among the classiest and deepest on the card. A field of 12, plus two also-eligibles, was entered for the eighth, a two-other-than allowance for fillies and mares at a mile.

Cat Quatorze, who faded to eighth when returning from a layoff in her last race at Churchill Downs, should be stronger with that race behind her and may run back to one of her better races. In her best performance to date, she won an entry-level allowance by 12 lengths at Churchill on July 1. Bill Troilo rides for Helen Pitts.