11/06/2002 12:00AM

Cilio barn loaded for big day


STICKNEY, Ill. - In 1986, trainer Gene Cilio and his brother, Ron DeCicilia, traveled to a Keeneland sale of breeding stock. The idea was to buy several mares and establish a breeding program in Illinois, taking advantage of state-subsidized purse enhancements with a breed-to-race operation. The idea was a good one.

Sixteen years later, Cilio has homebred horses to enter in all six of the statebred stakes at Hawthorne on Saturday. All have at least a reasonable chance, and something like a three-win day for Cilio would come as no surprise.

Cilio's horses are the most encompassing presence on an excellent day of restricted racing that should feature full, competitive fields. All six races, two for 2-year-olds, and sprints and routes for males and females, carry $100,000 purses.

Cilio and DeCicilia came home with six mares on that first Kentucky trip.

"They turned out good," Cilio said Wednesday from his Hawthorne barn office. "That really gave us our broodmare foundation."

The brothers' Crowns Way Farm broodmare band now numbers 14, and their horses, owned in various partnerships, are a year-round force in statebred races in Chicago. Cilio has had an especially strong season with statebred 2-year-olds, and he has solid contenders in both the 2-year-old filly and colt races here Saturday.

Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's prospective fields.

Showtime Deb: The Cilio-trained Invader gets top billing in the Showtime Deb, for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Invader's only win in five starts came in her career debut, but she has faced open company in all her starts since then, holding her own in sprint allowance races.

The Showtime Deb's other prime contender is Cash the Flash, 2 for 2 in her brief career, including a debut win here at Hawthorne in the spring and an easy score in a Fairmount Park stakes on Oct. 1.

Sun Power: With Cash the Flash in the Showtime Deb and a strong entry in the Sun Power, trainer Richard Hazelton also has a decent chance of sweeping Saturday's 2-year-old stakes.

Hazelton told Hawthorne officials he plans to enter both Bold American and Shandy in the six-furlong Sun Power, and Shandy especially should be tough in this spot. By the hot freshman sire Elusive Quality, Shandy won at first asking, was a close fourth in the open Spectacular Bid, and most recently won the open Prairie Meadows Freshman on Sept. 28.

Powerless: For older filly and mare sprinters, the Powerless should have a powerful favorite in Tejano Honey, although she is a 3-year-old facing her elders for only the third time.

Still, Tejano Honey has won seven of 12 starts and has never missed the board, and she was a close third just two starts ago in the open Prairie Meadows Oaks.

Lightning Jet: For older male sprinters, the Lightning Jet is coming up as a solid race that should have the venerable Tic N Tin as a favorite. Now a 7-year-old, Tic N Tin has been facing top-class regional sprinters for the last several seasons, and with six wins in 13 starts this year, he shows little sign of decline.

Other contenders are the Cilio-trained Out of My Way, the lightly raced Boom City from the Harvey Vanier stable, and Bulldog George, a Fairmount invader who has won six of seven career starts.

Illini Princess: There are no Azeris in the Illini Princess, so Two Item Limit figures to rule as an odds-on favorite in this race.

Two Item Limit was seventh in her last start, but that was the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Distaff, won in a romp by Horse of the Year hopeful Azeri. Two Item Limit never was in contention, but on Sept. 14 she won the only statebred race of her career by four lengths, eased up at the wire. The race here probably is for second.

Illinois Coronet: The day's anchor race probably is the day's best race. For older horses at 1 1/16 miles, the Illinois Coronet should have a deep, well-matched field. The talented 3-year-old Colorful Tour (who on Wednesday blew out a half-mile from the gate in 47 seconds), faces a strong group of older horses headed by Baker Road and Chinkapin.

Big fields keep on coming

Hawthorne continues rolling out huge fields, and Wednesday's entries for Friday were the strongest yet this meet. Seven of the 10 races should go with full fields of 12, while the other three attracted 11, 10, and nine horses.

The feature is the 10th, a third-level filly and mare turf allowance with a $35,000 claiming option. Cozy, Aesthete Approval, Red Mimi, and Go for Puddin are the top contenders among a contentious group.