09/25/2006 11:00PM

Arlington form often reverses across town


After nearly five months of watching horses run around the Arlington Park oval, the move to Hawthorne in the fall comes as something of a shock. Here, the track surface is deeper, so much deeper that one really gets the sense of watching horses running slower. And, the Hawthorne homestretch is longer. At Arlington, the field turns for home, and bang, there's the finish line. The Hawthorne stretch run seems to go on forever.

"One-hundred percent," trainer Mark Cristel said of the Arlington-Hawthorne dichotomy. "It's just totally different."

It is the rare horse equally at home on both courses. Cart's Maybeoughta, for instance, may be relishing the change of scene. "I really don't think he likes Arlington," said Cristel.

Hawthorne, however, is a different story, and Cart's Maybeoughta has a chance to end a four-race stay in the second Illinois-bred allowance condition when he starts Thursday in Hawthorne's featured eighth race. But, though the general thinking goes that a horse will face higher-quality rivals at Arlington than at Hawthorne, they are likely to encounter more of them at Hawthorne: Cart's Maybeoughta was one of 12 who went into the second-level allowance carded for 6 1/2 furlongs.

A 3-year-old, Cart's Maybeoughta made his debut with a third-place finish last Dec 17 at Hawthorne, and two weeks later he won a maiden race by a length. Back in the early part of the spring National Jockey Club meet, he won an entry-level allowance race by nine lengths and finished a closing third of 12 in the $99,000 Land of Lincoln Stakes. But then it was on to Arlington, where Cart's Maybeoughta made five starts, all apparently inferior to his spring Hawthorne form.

"I think horses come from behind here better than at Arlington," Cristel said. "I tried running him a mile there thinking they'd come back to him, but he was up there close to the pace and rank. I think he rates better over here."

Cart's Maybeoughta has post 12 Thursday, but figures to drop back and rally wide.

There are others in the race with a proven Hawthorne affinity. Chateau and Miss Infidelity have scored two of their three career wins there, Cat on the Grass three of his five. Recent Arlington winners Guccione and Friendsturnedfoes also will have a chance - if their form holds on the other side of Chicago.