06/14/2001 11:00PM

Bennett colt has the stuff to compete


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Winnie's Pooh Bear has traveled south from tiny Great Lakes Downs to run at the upper Midwest's mecca of racing, Arlington Park. But the 3-year-old colt will not be out of his league Sunday afternoon in the $50,000 Joe Marovich Stakes here.

Winnie's Pooh Bear, who already has won a stakes race across town at Hawthorne Race Course, faces seven rivals in the Marovich, a six-furlong sprint restricted to 3-year-olds.

Gerald Bennett trains Winnies Pooh Bear for A.A.C. stables, which bought him privately at Woodbine this spring. Woodbine purchases are nothing new for Bennett, nor are trips to Arlington. Bennett, who was a regular at the defunct Detroit Race Course, shipped stakes horses like Beau Genius here to race in the 1980's.

Now Bennett plies his trade at Great Lakes, the only remaining Thoroughbred track in Michigan. It was there that he saw Winnie's Pooh Bear's first work, and when the colt gave Secret Romeo everything he could handle that morning he figured he had something. "Secret Romeo won a stakes at Sportsman's in about 1:09," Bennett said of the six-furlong effort. "We thought he'd be a nice horse when we bought him."

Winnie's Pooh Bear handily won a maiden race at Hawthorne in his first race for Bennett, then came back a week later and won the Dee Lance Stakes by nearly two lengths. The colt ran again June 1 at Great Lakes in what was little more than a workout disguised as a race, easily winning a seven-furlong allowance. "He won under a hold," Bennett said. "He worked another half-mile since then, too. This time he beat Romeo."

Alfredo Juarez Jr. has a call on Winnie's Pooh Bear The colt possesses speed, but has a relaxed running style and should be just behind the early pace.

Antsinmypants, who has been training at Keeneland for Elliott Walden, has won three of four starts, and won the OBS Sprint in his most recent race. That win came back on March 19, but Antsinmypants proved that day that he could win after a layoff.

Spectacular Cat won the Spectacular Bid Stakes here as a 2-year-old, but has been off form this season. Hickory Switch makes his first start in a stakes but ran impressively winning a sprint allowance at Churchill in his last start.

The race is named after Joe Marovich, a horse-owner who died last summer during a charity benefit at Arlington's Trackside offtrack betting parlor.