08/02/2007 12:00AM

Celluloid Hero no longshot this time

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Making his first start over Polytrack against graded winners Spotsgone and Gouldings Green in a stakes-quality optional claiming race at Arlington Park on June 16, Celluloid Hero drew little mutuel respect, starting at odds of more than 22-1 in a six-horse field. He then scored a front-running upset, racing seven furlongs in 1:22.56, the fastest of 24 races at that distance over Arlington's Polytrack surface.

Entered back in Saturday's $45,000 Better Bee Stakes at Arlington - as part of an entry with City Number - he figures to go from an overlooked longshot to one of the race favorites.

Cutting back in distance from seven furlongs to six furlongs for the Better Bee, Celluloid Hero should be no less effective. A three-time stakes winner, he has won racing as short as 5 1/2 furlongs, taking the Dixieland Stakes at Oaklawn Park at that distance in January 2006.

A 4-year-old gelded son of Glitterman, he is simply a fast horse - something that was on display in his June 16 victory. Besides establishing the track record, he showcased speed and class by leading throughout over Spotsgone, a colt who won the Grade 3 Hanshin Handicap in wire-to-wire fashion earlier in the Arlington meet.

Also finishing behind him was Better Bee entrant Fifteen Rounds, a gelding that reigned as Chicago's top sprinter from 2005 through the middle of 2006. The latter ran evenly to finish third, three-quarters of a length behind Celluloid Hero and a head behind runner-up Spotsgone.

Hugh Robertson, who trains Celluloid Hero and co-owns the colt with Homewrecker Racing, has named Jesse Lantz to ride. Lantz also is named aboard City Number, Robertson's other entrant.

Unlike Celluloid Hero, who enters the Better Bee off a month and a half break following that June 16 race, Fifteen Rounds has remained active. He finished second, beaten seven lengths by eventual Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap winner Lewis Michael when racing in a one-mile optional claimer July 15.

He remains winless for more than a year, but moving back to his best distance of six furlongs should benefit him. Regular rider Chris Emigh has the mount.

Saint's Relic, Star by Design, and High Expectations are other notable entrants in the Better Bee.

All three have performed well on Polytrack. Saint's Relic and High Expectations both come off two-race win streaks over the synthetic surface, and Star by Design finished a close fourth behind Celluloid Hero at Arlington on June 16, one race before running sixth in the Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows on June 30.