08/05/2005 12:00AM

Early speed could be key to turf routes

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CHICAGO - Who's going to the lead? It's a question every handicapper should ask when starting to study a race, and coming up with the right answer could go a long way toward figuring out the winners of Arlington's co-features on a nine-race Sunday program.

Both the fifth and eighth races are on grass and for fourth-level allowance horses or $80,000 claimers. The fifth is for males over 1 1/8 miles, the eighth for females at 1 1/16 miles.

Arlington's turf course plays fair - most of the time. When the inner rail is moved as far out into the racetrack as it goes, speed holds better than it does most of the time. That was the configuration when Chic Dancer scored a seven-length win in a third-level allowance race on July 13, earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure that might make her the favorite in Sunday's eighth.

, from the 27-percent Christine Janks barn, ran well, no doubt about that, but she was loose on the lead through a soft pace before pouring it on in the stretch and might not get such a cozy setup this time. Stretch-out sprinter Final Discount could apply pace pressure, as might Code of Ethics, but Chic Dancer appears to be a significantly better filly this year at 4 then she was last season, and if need be, jockey Chris Emigh probably can take a light hold and sit behind a determined front-runner.

If she settles early, Chic Dancer has a great chance to repeat; if she goes too fast, watch out for closers Cape Town Lass - who apparently is not going for the Beverly D. next weekend - and Humorous Miss. The Illinois-bred stakes winner Beau Happy also will have a chance from a stalking position.

The fifth has one candidate for the lead, . The question here is how this horse will handle turf, since he has never tried it, but trainer Shannon Ritter said she thinks Ole Faunty has a chance to adapt to the new surface.

"We want to try him on turf, but if it comes off that's fine, too," she said. "I was hoping for a light field where he could gallop around there in front."

And that is exactly what she has gotten. Ole Faunty is by Quiet American and out of a Topsider mare, not an obvious grass pedigree.

If Ole Faunty can't handle turf, Prince Prado, who should stalk his pace, or Come On Jazz look like the ones in a six-horse field.