Updated on 09/16/2011 8:43AM

At age 8, Cetewayo far from over the hill


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Midway through his 8-year-old season, Cetewayo is happy, and the old man still is going strong.

Admittedly, he has things good for a racehorse. At trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in Maryland, Cetewayo has his own two-acre field where he grazes, rolls around, and generally takes it easy twice a day.

"The freedom helps keep him fresh mentally, the fresh air helps his lungs, and the grass is good for stomach ulcers," Dickinson said.

There's little question Cetewayo likes things this way.

Eight-year-olds aren't supposed to win Grade 1 races, but Cetewayo did this winter, taking the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup by more than three lengths. Wednesday night, he will board a van and ship west to Chicago, where he'll start Saturday as the 118-pound highweight and probable favorite in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Handicap.

Cetewayo comes off a win in the $100,000 Greenwood Cup Handicap at Philadelphia Park and has compiled a 2-1-1 record from four starts this year, only a season after it seemed he might permanently have gone off form. After winning the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap in November 2000, Cetewayo did not race until September of the following year. He wasn't the same horse when he came back. In four starts last year, Cetewayo's best was a third in the Turf Classic, and he finished his year with a 12th in the Red Smith.

"He had niggling injuries, aches and pains, nothing major," said Dickinson, who pushed onward this winter with his aging star.

Cetewayo, who rarely breezes, continued his regular seven-furlong canters up a slight incline on Dickinson's training grounds. The public had no sense of the rebirth that had taken place over the winter, and when Cetewayo returned to the races with his Grade 1 triumph, he was 18-1, a huge price for a Dickinson-trained winner.

Cetewayo will meet about nine rivals in the Stars and Stripes. At 12 furlongs, the race perhaps is at Cetewayo's best distance, and he picks up the riding services of Rene Douglas, who has done outstanding work on the grass this meet.

"He's just a lovely horse, like a child's horse," Dickinson said. "He loves his training and he loves his racing."

Schu faces former boss

Sally Schu trained for about nine years on her own before becoming Ken McPeek's Arlington-based assistant two seasons ago. She left that job last fall and now, back out on her own again, finds herself squaring off with her former boss Saturday in the Stars and Stripes.

McPeek plans to ship Pisces here from Churchill Downs on Friday, while Schu and owner Roy Monroe are leaning toward putting Private Son in the Stars and Stripes. Pisces dead-heated for second in the June 1 Louisville Handicap and was placed first via disqualification, making him one of the favorites in the Stars and Stripes. A mere second-level allowance winner in his last start, Private Son will get much less attention from the bettors.

But the colt is training so well right now that Schu figures it's worth taking a shot. "You know how it goes," she said. "In two weeks, he might not be as good."

Schu never won a stakes race during her previous stint as a head trainer, but she has better stock now. Wednesday, she was in Des Moines to saddle Don'truffleme in the $150,000 Iowa Oaks, and her small stable comprises allowance to stakes-class stock.

"It is a lot more fun this way," Schu said. "When I was with Kenny, we had such nice horses. You just get spoiled."

Private Son missed a year of racing, but returned in good form, finishing second at Keeneland before winning a second-level turf allowance at Churchill on May 16. Private Son was entered in an allowance race earlier this meet but was scratched when the race came off turf.

"It's a jump, a big jump for us," Schu said of the Stars and Stripes. "I think he'll really like the distance, and he breezed so good on turf the other day."

Watch the toteboard - maybe

The money just kept flooding in on Gold Ruckus when he won an allowance race here in his last start. Rockchalk Jayhawk, on the other hand, took little action at all, but won just as impressively. The two square off in a third-level turf allowance Friday, the best race on a card that proved very difficult to fill.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Gold Ruckus had won consecutive turf races when he showed up in a second-level grass allowance here. The turf came up wet that day, the race came off grass, and Gold Ruckus romped just the same at odds of 9-5, much lower than he figured to be on paper. He looked good doing it, too, and his time of 1:35.40 for a mile was very sharp indeed.

There is some rain in the forecast here Wednesday and Thursday, and in Gold Ruckus you get a two-surface threat. So, too, with Rockchalk Jayhawk, who was as long a price in his last race as Gold Ruckus was short. Rockchalk Jayhawk had run better on dirt than on turf, but in a $50,000 grass claimer he swooped to the lead in midstretch and won with authority.

They will all be chasing Bolt, whose most recent start also was rained off grass. Bolt set the pace to deep stretch before being passed, and he is eligible to improve in Friday's race.

Wrong kind of trip

Jeremiah Jack finished fourth as the favorite last Saturday in the Grade 2 Arlington Classic, but trainer Tom Amoss is likely to keep him in stakes company. Jeremiah Jack, who has remained with Amoss's Arlington string following the Classic, could run next in the American Derby here or ship to Colonial Downs for the Virginia Derby.

Amoss said that a recurring throat problem did not appear to have affected Jeremiah Jack on Saturday. Instead, it was a trip behind and between horses that took Jeremiah Jack out of his game.

"The race didn't go anywhere near the way I thought it would go," Amoss said Wednesday from Churchill Downs. "I thought we'd be in a clear position either on or just off the lead. He needs things to go his way."