09/19/2003 11:00PM

Baker Road on hunt for repeat


COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - The third edition of Illinois Day will be held at Fairmount Park on Tuesday and will feature six $35,000-added races for Illinois-breds. Short-priced favorites ruled on last year's Illinois Day card, and while it is possible the same thing will occur this year, several of the races do offer wagering value.

Baker Road won the Pete Condellone Handicap, for 3-year-olds and up at one mile, last year as the odds-on favorite and is back for a repeat attempt. Baker Road is the lone Chicago invader for the Condellone and has held good form throughout the season. In his last race, Baker Road finished third, beaten just three-quarters of a length, in Arlington's $50,000 Cigar Handicap at 1 1/8 miles in open company. Earlier this season, he won Hawthorne's $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue against statebreds.

Trainer Leo Gabriel has given Randy Meier the mount on Baker Road, the race's 123-pound highweight.

Several locals merit serious attention in the Condellone, including Bulldog George, who last year at age 3 was Fairmount's horse of the meet. Once thought of as a one-dimensional speed horse, Bulldog George has learned to relax more this season under the care of trainer Jimmy Wiser, and the colt has a two-turn win at the meet against many of Tuesday's rivals.

Bulldog George's last race was the most impressive of his career. Going 6 1/2 furlongs in an Illinois-bred overnight handicap at Arlington on Sept. 5, Bulldog George pressed the pace through a half-mile in 44.46 seconds before drawing off in the stretch to win by four lengths in 1:15.03, less than one second off the track record. Eusebio Razo Jr. rides at 120 pounds.

Of the four other starters, several are worth a look. Eight-year-old warhorse Tic N Tin has lost some of his zip this year but gets in at 115 and can never be counted out. Owner-trainer Ron Brandenburg got a solid prep race into Tic N Tin when he won a six-furlong classified allowance here Sept. 13.

Moe B Dick finished within a half-length of Baker Road in this race last year and has been solid in 2003.

The race's namesake, 93-year-old trainer Pete Condellone, is usually on hand to present the trophy, but he is in the hospital recuperating from a stroke he suffered Sept. 3.

The rest of the card shapes up as follows:

* In the All Sold Out Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, Gowithfate is undefeated in two starts against statebred company at Arlington and will likely be a heavy favorite. Trainer Jimmy Zook has an entry of first-timers Illini Boogy Queen and Wildwood Europa for track owner William Stiritz. Both horses have impressive works and could surprise.

* Of the 10 2-year-old colts and geldings entered in the six-furlong Marluel's Troy Stakes, six are coming in off maiden victories. Only King's Category has more than one win, and the race could set up nicely for his stalking style.

* Seven 3-year-old fillies will square off in the Slight in the Rear Stakes at six furlongs. A pair of Chicago-based fillies who have faced each other before, Cashmere Miss and Fighting Fever, figure as the likely choices.

* The Tex's Zing Stakes pits 10 3-year-old colts and geldings at six furlongs and is another open wagering event. Dr. Spellbinder, who won the Little Brother Stakes last December at Hawthorne but who has not started since, and locally based Jimmy's Boy are the horses to beat.

* Older females will run in the one-mile Bungalow. Dentons Ruby won this race last year but was disappointing in her only start this season. Win Won is a high-quality sprinter but is an unknown quantity around two turns. Slick's Lil Sister is the bona fide, late-running distance specialist in the race.