05/10/2007 12:00AM

Copper State tries one-turn mile


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Late last month, sitting in the Hawthorne Race Course grandstand shortly after Caruso, a good Illinois-bred 3-year-old he trains, had won a stakes race, Richard Hazelton pooh-poohed the chances of Copper State in another Illinois-bred stakes to be run shortly thereafter.

"I don't think she can win," Hazelton said.

Copper State was going in a six-furlong race, and in Hazelton's view that distance was too short. Copper State actually ran well in the Lady Hallie Stakes, and might have been second rather than third had she not gotten in trouble during the stretch run. But Hazelton's point was well taken. Copper State is bred to be a two-turn horse, and in the only route race of her career she won the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante last winter.

The question now at hand is whether a one-turn Arlington mile is long enough for Copper State, since that's the distance she races in Saturday's featured eighth race, a second-level allowance restricted to 3-year-old fillies.

Copper State, who drew unfavorably on the rail, was one of seven entered, and though she faces open company for only the second time in her career, Copper State can win. In eight starts, she has never finished worse than third, and though her best performances might eventually come in two-turn races, a mile should give Copper State more of what she desires.

Meanwhile, there is trainer Mike Stidham with another apparently live contender in an Arlington race. The Stidham barn went 4 for 7 during the opening three-day week, and Bold Angel has landed in a spot that should suit her talents. Bold Angel cleared the maiden ranks and was third in entry-level allowance company over the winter at Sam Houston, but was 25-1 when she upset the $45,000 Houston Oaks on March 10 in her first race beyond a sprint distance and not on turf.

"We were reaching a little there, trying to get some black type on her, and she won the race, but I didn't think she should have been 25-1," Stidham said.

Back three weeks later in a Delta Downs stakes, Bold Angel finished a distant sixth of seven on a muddy track she clearly disliked, a performance Stidham sees as a throw-out.

"She didn't even show her normal speed, never ran at all," he said

Others have a chance. Devil's Belle won consecutive two-turn Illinois-bred allowance races at Hawthorne. Missing Treasure exits a third-place finish in the Meafara, an overnight stakes at Hawthorne. Meadowlanding finished a troubled fourth behind Bold Angel in the Houston Oaks, and Mongoose Gold comes off an easy two-turn win on Hawthorne dirt.