07/10/2007 12:00AM

Dominican's post-Derby career begins


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Pop quiz: Besides Curlin, who's the one horse to beat Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense this year?

Here's another one: Who will be the favorite in the Round Table Stakes on Saturday at Arlington?

Both questions have the same answer, and it is Dominican.

Dominican still hasn't shown he's among the best 3-year-olds of 2007 in dirt races, but that fact has no bearing on Dominican's presence in the Round Table, which is run at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack, which Dominican loves.

Dominican is 3 for 3 on Polytrack, his victories having come in a Keeneland maiden race, the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway, and the big one, a narrow win over Street Sense in the Blue Grass Stakes last April at Keeneland. Dominican got some support in the Derby, but had a highly troubled trip, finishing 11th of 20.

Dominican "didn't come out of the [Derby] as well as I'd hoped," said trainer Darrin Miller, who sent the colt to a farm for a 30-day breather. "He spent some time in the oxygen chamber, got some R and R. The race was stressful on him, and he really needed the break. He looks fantastic now. He actually filled out more, and we're really happy with the way he came back. He's been forward ever since."

Dominican, who will ship from Kentucky on Thursday and be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, could have as few as five or six or as many as nine or 10 opponents in the $100,000 Round Table, depending on final decisions from trainers this week. Also considered probable starters are Mandurah, Pavarotti, Prom Shoes, Snowblind Friend, and Time Squared.

Miller is keeping post-Round Table plans open for Dominican at the moment. "Right now, there are a lot of options out there for him," he said. "We're sort of taking it a race at a time."

Miller also said that his other Kentucky Derby starter, fifth-place finisher Sedgefield, was ready to rejoin the stable, having recovered from surgery to remove a bone chip in his ankle.

"We'll gear him up and start looking for something maybe in September," said Miller.

Fort Prado to step up again next

Of the six Illinois-bred stakes winners on Saturday's Prairie State Festival, only one, Fort Prado, is a proven horse in open stakes races. And it is back to open stakes Fort Prado probably is headed. If things go well for him, Fort Prado could start Aug. 11, Arlington Million Day, in the $150,000 Sea o'Erin, a one-mile grass race.

Fort Prado barely caught a sometime claimer named Tenpointfive to win the Black Tie Affair on Saturday, but there is more to the story than just the narrow win. Tenpointfive is a sharp horse at the moment, and he was loose on the lead while setting slow fractions. Fort Prado had to make up close to 10 lengths on Tenpointfive in the race's last half-mile, while carrying 13 more pounds. The day was quite hot, and Fort Prado had to go all out to get there, but trainer Chris Block said he didn't see overt signs of fatigue from the leading Illinois-bred in training.

"It seems like he bounced out of it pretty good," Block said. "I thought he might be tired, but he's pretty consistent the way he comes out of a race. We'll see when we get back out there and train him. Who knows, the pep might not be there - but he acts like he's ready to go back to work."

Fort Prado has won races the caliber of the Sea o'Erin in the past, but since the race has been moved to Million Day, it may attract a stronger field than usual.

"He's going to have to bring his game up a level I think to fit in there," Block said.

Jennie R. ties up

The plan for Jennie R., a good-looking winner of an overnight turf stakes here last month, was to ship Friday from Arlington for the Lady Canterbury Stakes in Minnesota. But Jennie R. forced that plan to be scrapped when she tied up after a workout on Tuesday morning.

"I had every intention of sending her to Canterbury, but she got rambunctious and tied up on me when she blew out this morning, so that's out," trainer Michelle Boyce said.

Boyce said it actually was Jennie R.'s well-being that probably contributed to Tuesday's minor setback. "She's so good right now, so high and fresh, and they tend to be more vulnerable then," she said.

Provided she quickly bounces back, there's a local option for Jennie R. - the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap on July 21. "That would be where we're looking," said Boyce.

Churchill riders begin arriving

The influx of jockeys who rode at the just-concluded Churchill Downs meet has begun, with Jamie Theriot moving his tack here this week. Theriot has mainly ridden in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, but he paired with agent Fred Aime in December and ended up in Kentucky for the Keeneland and Churchill meets, where he did quite well. Theriot rode 37 winners at Churchill, good for sixth in the standings.

Aime also handled business for Mark Guidry at Churchill, but said that Guidry would be represented by his son Marcus when he begins riding here later this month. And finally, the agent Lenny Pike said Robby Albarado would begin riding July 21 at Arlington.

"We'll be gone a few weekends, but it's more or less a good place to base," said Pike.

Piano Tunner goes for three straight

Piano Tunner will try for her third consecutive win when she starts in Arlington's featured fourth race on Thursday. And since Piano Tunner just won under the same conditions, she has a good chance to succeed.

The featured fourth is a five-furlong turf sprint for third-level allowance horses or $62,500 claimers. On June 17, Piano Tunner ran under the claiming option and uncorked a strong stretch rally to get up by three-quarters of a length. This time, trainer Hugh Robertson has entered her under the allowance conditions.

A possible upsetter is Taylor Madison, a fast Illinois-bred whose lone prior turf try was around two turns over wet going.