10/28/2002 12:00AM

'Xmas Away' drops to score

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Pat Byrne had hoped to have a horse in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington last weekend, but no such luck. His two best 2-year-olds, Private Gold and Christmas Away, both disappointed in their final preps, leaving Byrne, who has won three Breeders' Cup races, without a BC starter for the fourth straight year.

While Private Gold, who finished sixth and last in the Oct. 5 Breeders' Futurity, is expected to run Saturday in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs, Christmas Away has designs on something less ambitious. He is entered in the feature race Wednesday at Churchill, an entry-level allowance that drew more than the turf-course limit of 10 starters.

Christmas Away bears a remarkable resemblance to his sire, Skip Away, not only in appearance, but also in the way he moves.

"He's got that high-knee action that Skip Away had," said Byrne. "It's amazing how much he runs like his daddy."

Byrne was highly encouraged by a runner-up finish for Christmas Away in the Sept. 2 Cradle Stakes, but the colt ran fifth in the Grey Stakes at Woodbine in his only subsequent start. By running for a $43,400 purse in the eighth of nine Wednesday races, Christmas Away is taking a sizable drop in class and figures as the horse to beat in the one-mile feature.

First post for the third program of the 30-day fall meet is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

* Tenpins, off an easy victory in the Fayette Stakes on closing day at Keeneland, will run next in the richest race of the fall meet, the $400,000 Clark Handicap on Nov. 29, said the colt's trainer, Don Winfree. The Clark will be the last race for Tenpins before he heads to New Orleans for the major handicaps at the Fair Grounds in the winter.

* Attendance at Churchill was 5,896 on Saturday, and nearly $1.8 million was bet by local fans on the Breeders' Cup. Churchill officials said attendance was down slightly from last year partly because of competition with football games for the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky.

* The feature races this weekend are the Iroquois and Pocahontas, to be run Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both the Iroquois, for colts and geldings, and the Pocahontas, for fillies, are $100,000 races at a mile.

* Churchill hosts a handicapping contest every Wednesday, with the finals set for Nov. 27. The weekly entry fee is $20. Finalists can earn a berth in the National Handicapping Finals in Las Vegas in January.