08/08/2005 12:00AM

Easier spot for 'Bloom'


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Great Bloom was nominated to this past Saturday's Sea O'Erin Handicap, but trainer Leo Gabriel shook his last week when asked if Great Bloom was running.

"Nope, no more stakes for him," Gabriel said.

Instead, Gabriel found a much cozier spot for Great Bloom in Wednesday's featured eighth race here at Arlington. The race is for third-level allowance horses or $62,500 claimers. is a nine-time winner and runs for the tag, and he takes a substantial step down in class after falling too far behind a slow pace and closing for third when entered for a $100,000 claiming price July 15.

But those inclined to stand against favorites will find plenty of options in Wednesday's eighth, which drew 13, with no-hoper , a convincing second-level allowance winner in his last start, and stakes-dropping win candidate Gwaihir should be close, with Gwaihir forced to leave the gate running from post 12.

If somehow the fractions turn hot, all the better for Kentucky shipper Gallo Del Bar, the pick in a race that's wide open - if Great Bloom fails to fire. Gallo Del Bar has been stuck at the third allowance level since December, when he was up by three-quarters of a length in a good effort at Fair Grounds. But he has kept good company since then: Two starts ago he finished second to Ay Caramba, who won the Grade 3 Oceanport on Saturday at Monmouth, and when he was second last out, Gallo Del Bar finished a neck ahead of Tempered Steel, who won a third-level allowance at Saratoga last week.

"He's totally dependent on the pace, since he's got no early speed," said trainer David Carroll. "He finishes second and third a lot, though - he's kind of that kind of horse."

Gallo Del Bar has post 11, but Brice Blanc figures to be dropping him in for position anyway, so the post shouldn't hurt that much. Things might be trickier for Gwaihir, who turns back to a better distance after a pair of races at 1 1/2 miles. Gwaihir has a touch of speed, but perhaps just enough to get hung wide on the first turn. If jockey Jesse Campbell can find a spot, Gwaihir should also be there at the finish.