07/05/2004 11:00PM

Bedanken shakes off Texas troubles


CHICAGO - Of course there are horses for courses, but there also are courses that horses abhor.

And there is little doubt now that Bedanken wants nothing to do with the grass at Lone Star Park. In two recent Texas turf tries, Bedanken was a substandard third and a surprisingly bad eighth, both times against competition the likes of which she had beaten before.

You could say that her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, was left scratching his head, though Von Hemel's head typically is covered by a cowboy hat. But Bedanken's losing streak ended Monday, when she returned to form and walloped five rivals in the $40,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes at Arlington. Racing over a yielding course, Bedanken tracked a slow pace, launched her run at the top of the stretch, and cruised to a 2 3/4-length victory over Cat's Cat, who had led from the start. Delicatessa finished third, two lengths ahead of the Grade 3 winner Aud, who was favored.

Von Hemel does not stable at Arlington, but Bedanken, a Pin Oak Farm homebred, will remain here, her day-to-day training overseen by Von Hemel's father, Don, who has an Arlington string. Last season, Donnie Von Hemel did the same thing with top turf mare Bien Nicole, who finished second in the Modesty Handicap and the Beverly D. The Grade 3 Modesty on July 24 is Bedanken's immediate goal, Donnie Von Hemel said Tuesday.

Von Hemel conceded that relief was among his emotions as Bedanken swept to her easy win Monday. Von Hemel is a perfectionist, and his win percentage stays high because he manages horses carefully. He could not find anything wrong with Bedanken in Texas, and he had to assume the racing surface had caused her decline.

"The results just are different," he said. "A filly that beat her down there [Cat's Cat] she handled pretty easily this time. The only thing different

I can see is the course."

Bare Necessities can't catch break

Trainer Frank Kirby knows he has in his barn a mare with serious talent. At this point, he would just like to see her get a chance to show it.

It was a boon to Kirby when the graded-stakes mare Bare Necessities was transferred to his care in May, but in two starts for Kirby, Bare Necessities has had little luck. And if her trip last month in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill was less than ideal, Saturday's journey in the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park was closer to nightmarish. Just look at the comments of Monmouth's chart-caller: "Stumbled start, off pace three path, shuffled back far turn, came on for third."

"How about just a good clean run for her?" Kirby said Tuesday morning.

Her chance for one is likely to come next in the Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park. If Kirby can keep Bare Necessities on a schedule, she will run after that in the Sept. 4 Arlington Matron.

Bare Necessities arrived back at Arlington about 11 a.m. Tuesday. She was in decent physical condition, Kirby said, but had grabbed the back of her front foot when she stumbled at the start.

"She looks okay," Kirby said.

Nothing on tap for Silver Bid

Leading Illinois-bred sprinter Silver Bid has come out of his win in the June 26 White Oak Handicap in good physical shape, but his trainer, Joel Berndt, is not sure what to do next. There are no obvious stakes spots coming up for Silver Bid at Arlington, and Silver Bid was not ready to run back in a couple of races Berndt might have considered last weekend.

"Silver Bid came out of the race absolutely super, but there's no immediate plans for him," Berndt said. "I'd love to run him back at Arlington - he loves the track here - but there's nothing in the near future for him."

Berndt is not going to force a start, nor is he eager to go looking for a fight out of town.

"We want him to be around in the fall," he said.

Fall might be about the time fans will next see another talented Berndt-trained horse, Mississippi Rain. Mississippi Rain, an Illinois-bred, finished second to the sharp sprinter Jimmy Cracked Corn in the $40,000 St. Paul Stakes on June 5 at Canterbury Park, but Mississippi Rain was conspicuously absent from the Prairie State Festival here last month.

"He's such a muscle-bound horse," said Berndt. "He's just body-sore.

I gave him a week off. I jogged him.

I had the masseuse work on him, and he's only about 50 or 60 percent back. I think I'm going to pull the plug and turn him out for a little while."