07/27/2007 11:00PM

Caruso tries to get back to winning


Six $45,000 stakes for Illinois-breds highlight Fairmount Park's eight-race program Tuesday afternoon in what is easily the biggest day of racing this year at the downstate Illinois oval, but it will be a far more subdued atmosphere compared to Fairmount's biggest day a year ago.

A crowd in the vicinity of 10,000, the largest to congregate at Fairmount in years, turned out on a muggy Saturday evening last August to see Lawyer Ron capture the $250,000 St. Louis Derby. The decision not to renew the St. Louis Derby this season, which was made early in the meet, left Fairmount without the means to attract nationally prominent runners, but those in attendance Tuesday will still get to see some talented horses.

Arguably the biggest attraction, and one Illinois racing fans may get to enjoy seeing for awhile, is Caruso, who figures as a solid favorite in the Pete Condellone Memorial for 3-year-olds at six furlongs, which goes as race 6.

A winner in 5 of 8 starts, including four stakes, Caruso would have already stamped himself as prime stallion material if not for the fact that the son of Cape Canaveral is a gelding. The Condellone will mark the second time local fans have laid eyes on Caruso, who traveled from his Chicago base last September to run away with the Troy Our Boy Stakes by more than nine lengths.

In the intervening 10 months, Caruso established himself as one of the leading statebreds of his generation, but he may be in need of a confidence boost after recently coughing up leads in the Zen and White Oak stakes at Arlington, both won by High Expectations.

Trainer Richard Hazelton expressed concern last week that Caruso's presence in the Condellone would leave Fairmount officials struggling to make the race go, but six other names were dropped in the entry box, though all appear to be decided underdogs if Caruso runs to form.

He's Hot Sauce, winner of the ITBOF Sales Stakes at Hawthorne in April, ran an uncharacteristically poor race when last of 12 in the Springfield Stakes at Arlington last time, but seems the most likely upsetter if there is to be one. Amos B, who recently overcame trouble in winning two allowances over the Arlington Polytrack, is another who merits respect.

Post time is 1 p.m. Central.