09/24/2007 11:00PM

Dancing Saints a bit iffy on new footing

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. – Richard Hazelton has been winning horses races on dirt tracks since, oh, about the Stone Age, so forgive him being slightly skeptical of the new synthetic racing surface at Arlington. Hazelton suspected before the Arlington meet began that he might not be winning races in bunches, and he was right.

But in Thursday's featured fourth race at Hawthorne, one of the few Hazelton horses who really got the hang of the Polytrack thing – Dancing Saints – must prove he can race with equal effectiveness on a conventional dirt track.

Dancing Saints and Campo form a Hazelton-trained, Ben Barnow-owned coupled entry in Thursday's fourth race, a six-furlong second-level Illinois-bred allowance. Campo has the habit of running up to horses and slowing down at the last moment, or getting in seven kinds of traffic while attempting to make his stretch run.

But Dancing Saints looked strong in his last two starts. After turning in a couple so-so efforts - and one really poor one - on Polytrack, Dancing Saints missed by a neck in an Aug. 1 allowance race, then cleared his first Illinois allowance condition with a 1 3/4-length win Sept. 8.

Dancing Saints did win his maiden over the Hawthorne dirt this past spring, and won it by open lengths. But on Thursday, he may wind up being part of a quick early pace, along with outside-drawn Lighthouse Judge, who may be sent along to get position before hitting the turn, and Chillin Villain, who probably has to be at least slightly used at the start to get a decent trip from the rail. Chillin Villain never really appeared comfortable on Polytrack, and is a threat to improve significantly returning to dirt.

Lying in the weeds is Fielding, whose 2-for-30 career win mark will, with good reason, put off many handicappers. But Fielding, a quirky horse, has run well enough in the past to win a race like this, and trainer Kerry Zavash has lately been pulling strings like a master puppeteer. He won two races during opening week of he meet - including the Sunday feature with Ally's Little Sis - and the Aug. 31 Arlington tune-up he gave Fielding might have the horse set for a top performance.