05/31/2006 11:00PM

Awad lacks solid favorite if Mott horse doesn't run


CHICAGO - Arlington's Mid-America Triple, three summer stakes for 3-year-old grass horses, had an identity crisis even before Colonial Downs introduced one then another $1 million race in the same division. With $2 million in prize money up for grabs this year in Virginia, the Mid-America Triple, until the Secretariat Stakes, has become an also-ran, one reason why no grass horses of scintillating promise were entered in Saturday's $40,000 Awad Stakes, Arlington's prep for the Arlington Classic, the first leg of the summer series.

In fact, the Awad might lose its probable favorite, since Equal Opportuntity was cross-entered Friday in a Churchill Downs allowance race and is likely to go in that spot, according to Kenny McCarthy, who oversees trainer Bill Mott's string at Churchill.

"As of this morning, [Mott] said his preference is to run here at Churchill," McCarthy said.

There is a chance of rain in Louisville, Ky., and should Equal Opportunity's race come off the grass, the horse could come to Arlington, but even then, he may not win the one-mile Awad.

"He might have some distance limitations," said McCarthy.

At least we know , from the barn of D. Wayne Lukas, is by Storm Cat, and High Adventure is by Storm Cat's son High Yield - and both have pedigrees that, while not crying out for the lawn, have grass potential.

On the other end of the spectrum is In a Flash, who has made seven turf starts but might not be good enough to win Saturday. The Patrick Biancone-trained In a Flash started his career in England and won a minor turf handicap last fall at 2, but his lone victory since coming to the U.S. came on Turfway's Polytrack, and In a Flash wasn't competitive in a pair of recent Kentucky turf-stakes tries.

California-based Icy Ridge has made only mild stretch runs in his three turf races. Maybe he will prefer Arlington's gentler carpet to those at Hollywood and Santa Anita. Three Cities has yet to pass a horse in the stretch, though he might be improving, while Four Boy Sham won his turf debut here May 6, but beat only five in a false-paced first-level allowance run on wet turf. And finally, Devilofarush already has had 16 starts in his career. Experience is not an issue here, but turf ability might be.