06/13/2006 12:00AM

Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap field in flux

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CHICAGO - This much of Saturday's Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap is easy enough to handicap: Saturday's edition of the Grade 3 sprint can't match the 2005 race.

Last year, Louisiana-bred and -based Happy Ticket came to Arlington Park and won the Chicago BC, proving for the first time that she was more than a regional talent. But Happy Ticket dances this year in the Fleur de Lis on Saturday at Churchill Downs, while the $175,000 Chicago BC is shaping up with a lesser cast of older female sprinters.

There could be as many as nine of them when entries are taken Wednesday, but the field remained in flux as of Tuesday afternoon. Trainer Steve Asmussen has decided to start Annika Lass rather than Red Lifesaver, which might give the race a slight upgrade, but trainer Ronny Werner still was playing wait-and-see with Flying Glitter when reached late Tuesday morning.

An accomplished dirt horse, Flying Glitter easily won her turf debut in a high-end May 28 allowance race at Churchill, opening up a new world of stakes racing, including the $100,000 Early Times Mint Julep on Saturday at Churchill. Werner said he and Flying Glitter's owners would soon come to a decision on whether to stay home or ship to Arlington.

Probable for the seven-furlong Chicago BC are Dimple Pinch, Silver Crown, Ebony Breeze, and a pair of Christine Janks-trained horses, For Gillian and Modjadji. Joining Flying Glitter on the possible list are Island Escape, She's That Cat, and Morner.

Fort Prado works, closes in on start

Fort Prado, one of the Midwest's best turf horses, worked a strong six furlongs on Monday and is poised to make his first start since suffering a bruised foot that kept him out of the Grade 1 Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill. Fort Prado was timed in 1:13.40 for his six-furlong breeze on a track that produced quick workout times.

"He breezed good here yesterday, he really did," trainer Chris Block said.

The natural spot for Fort Prado's first start of the summer is the Black Tie Affair Handicap, one of six Illinois-bred stakes here June 24, but Fort Prado also has been nominated to the Dallas Turf Cup this weekend at Lone Star Park, and hasn't fully been committed to the Black Tie Affair.

"I'd like to stay home, and the intention is to run here, but only if the weights are proper," Block said.

Weights in the four handicap races on the Prairie State Festival card will be assigned later this week.

Chile's Quest's Beyer believeable?

There are only six horses in the nominally featured eighth race Thursday at Arlington Park, but the field still is decent.

Carded at seven furlongs on dirt for 3-year-old entry-level allowance horses or $50,000 claimers, the race figures to have as a favorite Chile's Quest, from the Wayne Catalano barn. Chile's Quest looks especially good if one were to take at face value the Beyer Speed Figure he was assigned for finishing second in a race at this class level May 18 at Arlington. While Chile's Quest has improved this season, and has done well since Catalano and owner Frank Calabrese claimed him Feb. 28 at Hawthorne, he might not be as good as the 90 Beyer Figure attached to his last start. The figure is 12 points higher than Chile's Quest's previous career best and, moreover, Arlington's main track May 18 was among the fastest all meet.

Chile's Quest and leading rider Chris Emigh figure to get a good trip stalking or pressing the pace of the promising last-out maiden winner Giant Hit, and they'll likely get first run on the closers.

But Chile's Quest may face a strong late challenge from Arbuckle Bandit, who makes his first start since finishing an onrushing second to the talented Music School in a Feb. 5 Oaklawn Park allowance race.

Trained by Mike Stidham for Golden Racing Stable, Arbuckle Bandit appears to have developed steadily over the span of his six career races, and he has worked strongly at Arlington for his return from the four-month break.