10/02/2008 12:00AM

Best Buddy no lock on surface angle


STICKNEY, Ill. - An obvious strategy for playing the early days of the Hawthorne fall meet would be to look for the dirt horses. There certainly exist animals in the local populace that either struggled over Polytrack at Arlington, or were given light campaigns this summer while waiting for a more serious effort during the fall meet at Hawthorne.

That strategy would have backfired badly on the Wednesday card here, to take just one example. There were seven dirt races on the program. The winner in six of them had a recent race at Arlington, but five of those winners had never before scored on dirt. So much for strictly surface-related handicapping.

All of which makes one at least mildly skeptical of what seems like a logical angle in the featured eighth race here Saturday - that Best Buddy will bounce back to his best form back on the Hawthorne main track.

Best Buddy won a pair of Illinois-bred allowance races here last spring by more than 12 lengths combined, and it looked like his development slowed or halted once Best Buddy began racing on the all-weather Arlington track. With three recent fourth-place finishes in allowance routes, Best Buddy has been showing just enough to suggest his form is ripe for a back-to-dirt leap.

It may happen, but Saturday's eighth is no slam dunk for a horse of Best Buddy's baseline ability. In all, eight were entered in the 1 1/16-mile race for third-level allowance horses or $40,000 claimers, which has Iosilver as a likely pacesetter. With six wins on dirt, two on synthetic tracks, and one more on turf, Iosilver has the kind of multiple-surface credentials Best Buddy lacks. He also might be the controlling speed from the fence after failing to get things his way in two late-meet Arlington races.

Iowa-bred Dynamic Affair has made noticeable progress since being shifted from sprints to routes by trainer Chris Richard, and looks like one of the potential pace-pressers who could complicate Iosilver's task. Not that it's easy to begin with. Inside-speed winners have been notably rare during the first four days of this meet, with late-running horses in outside paths - that is, horses with Best Buddy's style - having the best of things so far.

The Saturday card lacks a stakes race, but does include two other allowance races plus a bevy of gigantic fields.

Solid work for My Dominick James

Tuesday at Hawthorne, the 2-year-old gelding My Dominick James had his first timed workout since suffering his first career defeat in the Arlington-Washington Futurity on Sept. 13. My Dominick James worked a half-mile in 49.60 seconds, which was not at all a slow time on a racetrack that has been deep and laboring all week.

"He worked great, nice and easy," trainer Larry Rivelli said.

My Dominick James finished a creditable fifth of 12 in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, beaten less than two lengths after easily winning the first three starts of his career.

Rivelli plans to take advantage of My Dominick James's Illinois-bred status during the Hawthorne meet, and said My Dominick James is being pointed to the $100,000 Sun Power Stakes here on Nov. 1. If My Dominick James runs to expectations, he could come back in the Dec. 13 Jim Edgar Futurity - another Illinois-bred race - here in December.