06/11/2003 11:00PM

You towers over Fleur de Lis


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It happened once, and it could very well happen again.

You, the filly who two years ago began her career at Churchill Downs as a $50,000 maiden-claimer, will bid for her second Grade 2 victory of the 2003 spring meet as the odds-on favorite Saturday in the $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap.

Two starts back, You was 1-5 in the Louisville Breeders' Cup on the Kentucky Oaks undercard and rolled to a 7 3/4-length victory under jockey Jerry Bailey. This time around, a remarkably similar scenario appears to have unfolded: You, with Bailey to ride, will be the highweight and prohibitive favorite in a small field of fillies and mares in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis, the richest of three supporting stakes on the Stephen Foster undercard.

Bobby Frankel, who on behalf of owner Edmund Gann purchased You as a lightly raced 2-year-old from owner Dolph Morrison and trainer Hal Wiggins, chose You for the Fleur de Lis over two other talented fillies in his barn, Sightseek and Wild Spirit. Frankel cited You's experience in two-turn races and her prior success at Churchill in reaching that decision.

As with the Louisville BC, the competition for You in the Fleur de Lis seems noticeably inferior to what she is accustomed to facing. If an upset is to occur, it most likely would come from one of the four horses carrying 114 pounds: Minister's Baby, So Much More, Printemps, or Nonsuch Bay. Rounding out the field are Charmed Gift, 112, and Missing Miss, 109.

No matter the weather, show must go on

The weather may be rainy and nasty here Saturday, but it will take one heck of a squall to surpass what occurred here three years ago on Foster Day, when a massive thunderstorm engulfed Churchill about 20 minutes before the race.

"I was in the winner's circle reading a script," recalled Churchill vice president John Asher, who also appears on the track's closed-circuit telecast, "when an enormous thunderclap about threw me out of my shoes. It wasn't until later that Elliott Walden told me that it was a bolt of lightning hitting one of the Twin Spires. Being the old pro I am, I kept on reading while frantically ducking for cover."

The race eventually went off without incident, with Golden Missile, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, splashing to victory over the Walden-trained Ecton Park.

Ramsey poses barefoot in the mud

Now here was a sight to behold: Ken Ramsey, barefoot in the winner's circle.

Ramsey, who with his wife Sarah has won or shared the leading owner title at the last six Churchill meets, has made a habit of taking a shank and leading his horse into the winner's circle after a victory.

Wednesday, the track was so muddy that after his Onlycook Half Ofit won the seventh race, Ramsey - much to the shock and delight of dozens of onlookers - simply took off his shoes and socks and rolled his trousers up to his knees before having his picture taken.

Derby Alumni reunion on back burner

For three years (1998-2000), Foster day coincided with a Derby Alumni celebration that brought back Derby-winning owners, trainers and jockeys to Churchill. Alumni day was discontinued because of the prohibitive cost, but Asher said "it isn't quite dead yet. We'd dearly love to bring it back if we could get a major sponsor for it. Although it's probably never going to be an annual event, I do think we'll have it again, hopefully sooner as opposed to later."

* Will Farish, the former Churchill chairman who now serves the Bush administration as the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James in Britain, was scheduled to make a special trip back home to watch Mineshaft run Saturday in the Foster. Farish owns Mineshaft in partnership with Temple Webber Jr. and James Elkins. "Obviously it'd be great if we could win with Mr. Farish here," said Neil Howard, Farish's longtime trainer.

* Don't blame Tom Amoss if he keeps glancing toward a television set Saturday. Amoss will be here to saddle Lone Star Sky in the Northern Dancer, but he also will be represented in two stakes elsewhere: Full Spectrum, the heavy favorite in the $50,000 Miller Lite Stakes at Lone Star Park, and Miss Lodi, one of the main challengers to Raging Fever in the $175,000 Chicago Breeders' Cup at Arlington.

* Here's a good example of why horseplayers like multi-race wagers. In the final pick four here Wednesday, the winners were Onlycook Half Ofit ($7.40), Hey Rita ($20.20), Elite Mercedes ($2.80), and Northern Catch ($4.40). For a $2 win parlay, the return would have been about $231. The $2 pick four returned $1,066, more than four times the value of the parlay.

* A Franklin Circuit Court judge has upheld the vote last fall by the Kentucky Racing Commission to reject an application from Louisville businessmen Tim McCall and David Holloway to build a Quarter Horse track in Williamsburg, Ky.