09/01/2004 12:00AM

Adoration works 'great' for Matron

Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Adoration, shown here winning the Fleur de Lis, is set to go Saturday in the Arlington Matron Handicap.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Adoration, the Breeders' Cup Distaff winner, who shipped into Arlington on Monday, breezed a half-mile in 48 seconds here Wednesday morning, her final serious exercise before racing Saturday in the Arlington Matron Handicap.

Martin de Ruben, an exercise rider for trainer David Hofmans, was aboard for the breeze and told Hofmans afterward that Adoration "went great, really easy," Hofmans said.

"All I wanted was for her to finish up strong, and that's what she did," Hofmans said.

Adoration was one of nine horses entered Wednesday in the Matron, a Grade 3 worth $150,000 and run over 1 1/8 miles. The locally-based horses Bare Necessities and Tamweel appear to be her strongest opponents.

Unraced since she won the Fleur de Lis Handicap on June 12 at Churchill Downs, Adoration got a midsummer rest in order to focus on a fall campaign that will culminate in a defense of the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

"Our goal is the Breeders' Cup, and we want to get her there fresh," said Hofmans. "One and one-eighth miles is her ideal distance, and we want her to have two mile and an eighth races before the Breeders' Cup."

Hofmans said Adoration's final Breeders' Cup prep is likely to come in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland.

There were a couple of reasons Hofmans chose to work Adoration after she shipped to Arlington rather than breezing at her home base, Hollywood Park.

"If we'd worked her Sunday, she was leaving right away and we wouldn't have been able to see how she looked afterward," he said. "She's been off so long, I wanted to work her closer to the race."

Honor in War works fast

The graded-stakes turf miler Honor in War, who hasn't started since late spring, worked five furlongs on turf here Wednesday in 1:04, the fastest of six works at the distance. It was Honor in War's second breeze since trainer Paul McGee sent him to Arlington last month.

Honor in War is training at Arlington rather than in Kentucky - McGee's home base - in order to make use of Arlington's turf course, and because he is slated to run in an overnight turf stakes here on Sept. 18. McGee hopes to use that race as a prep for the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland.

Honor in War's summer campaign was interrupted by a quarter crack that surfaced in June, but that problem has been brought under control, and McGee said Honor in War has been training forwardly.

Sinclair sends out Liz on Polk Street

Jody Sinclair has gone 3 for 14 since being tapped - from out of the blue - by owner Frank Calabrese to replace Pat Cuccurullo as Calabrese's private trainer.

"People said it would be tough, but Frank and I get along," Sinclair. "I tell him what's going on, and he lets me do what I need to do."

Before partnering with Calabrese, Sinclair was working at Canterbury Park as an assistant to trainer Joel Berndt, and he had not served as a head trainer in years.

"I didn't know I missed it that much," Sinclair said. "I can't wait to get out of bed each morning."

Friday, Sinclair will saddle the 3-year-old filly Liz on Polk Street for Arlington's featured fifth race. Liz on Polk Street, a daughter of Calabrese's Grade 1 winner Silver Maiden, has won two of three starts in her brief career and was an impressive three-length winner of her most recent race.

"She's probably the best horse we have in the barn," Sinclair said.

Liz on Polk Street has only five rivals in this second-level allowance race at six furlongs, but one of them is Gilded Gold, the likely favorite. Trained by Tom Amoss, Gilded Gold won two straight starts at the Churchill meet, including an 11 1/2-length allowance blowout, but was beaten a nose as the odds-on favorite in the $53,000 Pollys Jet Stakes at Delaware Park.

* Epalo, the German horse who was placed third through disqualification in the Arlington Million, breezed a half-mile on dirt here Monday in 51.40 seconds. Epalo has remained in the U.S. to make his next start in the Sept. 11 Man o' War at Belmont.