04/26/2007 11:00PM

Blue collar meeting concludes


CHICAGO - It almost seems right that there's no high-class feature on Sunday's racing program at Hawthorne, the final card of the winter-spring meet. As much as anything, this is a meet for the year-round Chicagoans, those hearty souls who spend the coldest months of the year at Hawthorne, rather than in Florida, Arkansas, or Louisiana.

Roger Brueggemann, who came into Friday's races with a four-win lead in the trainer standings, is a perfect example, a trainer whose barn mainly is stocked with claimers and Illinois-breds. Brueggemann's strategy has been to go all out the first three months of the Chicago racing season, and let the chips fall where they may over the summer at Arlington.

The best runners on Sunday's 10-race card might be in a six-horse field of Illinois-bred entry-level allowance sprinters in race 4.

Gathering Kings looked like any kind of horse winning his career debut on March 24 by more than 10 lengths, one of many young horses sent out to win for the first time this spring by legendary trainer Richard Hazelton. Gathering Kings ran a snappy 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.31, earning an 85 Beyer Speed Figure, but may not have beaten much, and debuted on a "good" track that some of the competition might not have handled.

He should get a stiffer test Sunday from Smart Cart, and perhaps Stanley G. and Toast in the Park. Smart Cart has run well in all three of his starts, losing by a nose in his career debut last November, graduating with a solid win in December, and finishing a clear second of 10 in his 2007 debut, beaten only by a buzz-saw named Icandazzle, who was scheduled to run in a stakes race on Saturday at Hawthorne.

Jockey race remains tight

While it will take a Herculean effort for a pursuer such as Mike Reavis to catch Brueggemann for leading trainer, the race for leading jockey may come down to the final card.

By winning one race on Thursday, Chris Emigh took a one-win lead over Israel Ocampo, but Ocampo won Friday's first race to knot things up again. Ocampo rides nine of Sunday's 10 races, while Emigh has eight mounts.

* Chicago racing moves to Arlington on Friday after four dark days.