08/09/2004 11:00PM

Class drop bodes well for 'Ivan'

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - At age 8, Ivan Jay Perry is closing in on $400,000 in prize money, and he has held his form longer than the typical American racehorse. When he starts for a $62,500 claiming price Thursday at Arlington, Ivan Jay Perry will be taking a class drop, and that is saying something for an old-timer.

If all entrants start, will face eight in the featured eighth race here, a third-level turf allowance with the $62,500 claiming option that allows Ivan Jay Perry and two others to run. Should rain force the race to the main track, Intelligent Male, winner of the $145,000 Claiming Crown Jewel in his last start, will see action.

The equation is easy to set up: Ivan Jay Perry didn't begin racing until he was 4, and the later horses start, the longer they are likely to last. And Ivan Jay Perry shows no overt signs of slowing. He has won seven of 22 on turf - he will run on dirt, too - while operating in the $80,000 to $100,000 claiming range the last couple of seasons. That's a lofty space for a horse who once ran in a $17,500 claimer for "nonwinners-of-two."

"He's an old pro now," said Brian Williamson, who oversees the barn of trainer Harvey Vanier. "He used to be tough to train, though. He never wanted to back up. He'd rear up all the time. All the exercise riders used to be scared of him. That's why we ran him for the $17,500."

Ivan Jay Perry was considered for the $150,000 Sea o'Erin Breeders' Cup last weekend, which says much about his chances Thursday.

"I think he'll win," Williamson said. "I haven't even seen who's in the race, but I figure he ought to be tough for the sixty-two-five."

Ivan Jay Perry raced at the $100,000 claiming level last out - though he was not entered to be claimed that day - finishing third after racing in last behind a false pace and being forced four wide turning for home. Mix better luck with lesser opposition, and Ivan Jay Perry is in line for his seventh Arlington grass win. To get it, he may have to outfinish the graded-stakes dropper Cloudy's Knight.

Should the race be switched to dirt, the focus shifts to , who raced for a $25,000 tag in his first start of the season, but overcame a wide trip to score a neck win July 17 in the best of the Claiming Crown races.

"He's eating good, he looks good, and he breezed good," trainer Wayne Catalano said. "There's a dirt race coming up for him. But if it rains, you'd hate to look up and say, 'Why weren't we in there?'"