12/08/2004 12:00AM

Arizona Rose's big day near


STICKNEY, Ill. - A trainer will point a horse to a race a couple of months away, sometimes more, if they're the type to take the long view. But the connections of Arizona Rose have been thinking of Saturday's $100,000 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante for two and a half years.

"How long have I pointed for this race? Since she was born," said Mike Weissman, who trains Arizona Rose for owner-breeder Richard Perkins. "How many hundred-thousands are there going to be for an Illinois-bred to run in?

To get into the Debutante, you have to pay $25 when you register your foal as an Illinois-bred. Further nominating payments of $125 and $250 are required to remain eligible, and if your horse gets as far as this week with a chance, an owner has to pony up $750 to enter, another $750 to start. There almost certainly will be a full field in the Debutante, yet many will be risking their fees on a rank longshot. Of the 93 2-year-old fillies eligible for the Debutante, 79 still are maidens, and not a single horse has won more than one race.

That is what makes Arizona Rose look like a prime player Saturday, especially since she finally gets to race around two turns. Arizona Rose has started six times, never running farther than six furlongs, and though she won her career debut at five furlongs June 23 at Arlington, Arizona Rose has looked like a route horse all along.

"If you look at these Western Playboys [Arizona Rose's sire], they want to go long," Weissman said. "This horse has always run like she wants to go long."

It looks that way. Arizona Rose settles and finishes, settles and finishes, and she came from 10th off a moderate pace to get fourth here Nov. 13 in the six-furlong Showtime Deb Stakes. Weissman said he hoped to get Arizona Rose two-turn experience for the Debutante, "but none of the races were filling." Instead, Arizona Rose logged a six-furlong solo work for the Debutante, and Weissman has been sending her out for strong 12-furlong gallops.

Meadow Bride, who finished second in the Showtime Deb, could end up as the favorite in Saturday's race.

Brueggeman enjoying career meet

They have found a way Friday at Hawthorne to cool off trainer Roger Brueggeman - keep him on the sidelines.

Brueggeman had no entries for Friday's 10-race card, and that has been about the only time a handicapper could look past him at this meet. Through Sunday, Brueggeman had 16 wins from only 59 starters - by far the best Hawthorne meet of his career - one more winner than he had in 100 starts coming into this meet.

After a quick start here in late September and early October, Brueggeman balked at being interviewed, fearing that speaking about his streak of good luck would end it. But little has slowed Brueggeman down. Sunday, he won a pair of races with longshots, taking the fifth with Mainly Henry, who paid $50.80, and the seventh with Freedom Roar, who paid $31.20.

"Like I said before, it's just one of those things where everything falls the right way for you," said Bruegg-eman.

Brueggeman said he wasn't even thinking about the chance he could be leading trainer here, but it is a chance that exists. Agoing into thursday's card, Brueggeman trailed leading trainer Steve Asmussen by five wins and Wayne Catalano by three, and both those barns have been steadily shipping horses to Fair Grounds. Brueggeman said he has about 15 horses left to run the rest of this meet, depending on how many get into races.

Claimers fill card

It was bound to happen in Decem-ber at Hawthorne, a program composed entirely of claiming races. Every horse entered in Friday's 10-race card had a price tag, from $5,000 to $25,000.

The $25,000 claimer, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares going as race 7, drew a field of nine, headed by Rupert's Fire, a second-level allowance winner in her last start. The ever-consistent Lucky M also rates a major chance as she drops down in class.