09/14/2006 12:00AM

Confederation forced to try two turns again


CHICAGO - You could run a one-turn mile race at Hawthorne Race Course - if you had a horse that was a beautiful mover on concrete and had the makings of a star hurdler of cyclone fencing. As it stands, the one-turn mile specialists residing in Chicago are done until the next Arlington Park meet, that added backstretch ground of the mile run occupied at Hawthorne by parking lot, Laramie Avenue, and even a house sitting just west of the short main-track chute. At Hawthorne, the longest one-turn race is 6 1/2 furlongs; from there, one goes up to one mile and 70 yards around two turns.

And so it is on to two turns for Confederation, who starts Saturday - Day 2 of the fall meet - in a third-level allowance race with a $40,000 claiming option carded for 1 1/16 miles on dirt. Confederation, making his first start since being privately purchased and turned over to trainer Steve Hobby, looked good winning a second-level allowance Aug. 16 at Arlington, but the race was a one-turn mile, and in that extra turn on Saturday lies the great unknown.

"We've got to find out if he can do it someday," said Hobby, who is about ready to make his late-summer transition from Arlington to points south. Right now, some of the Hobby stable is at Remington; a dozen or so other horses will wind up at Keeneland for several weeks. Keeneland, in fact, is the only place Confederation, a son of Dixie Union out of a mare by Gulch, has ever tried two turns: He finished fifth in an entry-level allowance race.

If there's guesswork involved in imagining Confederation's two-turn transition, there's no mistaking the negative character of his post, the outside gate in a 10-horse field, with a relatively short run to the first turn.

To run well at two turns, Confederation will need to relax, but on the other hand, it will be beneficial to show some early speed in order to gain position. Speed on, speed off - some horses can do it, others can't.

Icanmove, claimed back earlier in the year by trainer Joe Kasperski, also comes off a good Arlington one-turn mile victory. Unlike Confederation, there's an established line on Icanmove, who probably is at his best at Arlington's middle distance.

"A one-turn mile probably is his best distance," Kasperski said. "But we're not at Arlington any more."

An interesting alternative is Cavu, who may prefer two turns at Hawthorne to one at Arlington. His last victory? A 1 1/16-mile statebred allowance here in the spring.