09/03/2002 11:00PM

Echeverria is out - so anyone can win


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes for 2-year-old colts was thrown wide open with the news that Echeverria won't run in the race. Second in the Ellis Park Juvenile to the highly regarded colt Private Gold, Echeverria was thought to be headed to the Spectacular Bid, but John Good, the Kentucky-based assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, said Wednesday that Echeverria wouldn't ship to Arlington this weekend.

A seven-length Ellis Park maiden winner owned by Mike Pegram, Echeverria would have been a solid favorite in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid, but Good said Baffert planned on stretching the colt out to two turns, either in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park or the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

In Echeverria's absence there is no clear favorite for the Spectacular Bid, a prep for the Arlington-Washington Futurity. Expected to start are Midway Road, Oneofthebirdboys, Sharp Impact, Unleash the Power, and Wiggins. Trainer Richard Hazelton is likely to run either Bold America or Shandy. Larson E Whipsnade and Lector are possible starters.

Wiggins, a speedy Illinois-bred colt, breezed three furlongs Wednesday in about 34 seconds, the fastest work at the distance. But fast works are nothing new for this colt, who has been turning heads here in the morning for most of the summer. His reputation made Wiggins 4-5 in his career debut (he finished third) and almost got the colt sold before he had ever started. Frank Calabrese nearly bought Wiggins from Edward Wiggins and Ken Spraggins, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

"He's still for sale right now," said Spraggins, who also serves as Wiggins's trainer, "but he'll be a lot more expensive if he wins Saturday."

Wiggins showed speed from his first breeze, but it took time to convince Spraggins he had quality to go with his brilliance. Spraggins said one morning he matched Wiggins with a fast filly trained by Steve Hobby, and "he outworked her easily. That's when I knew he was a runner."

Wiggins graduated in his second start, gutting out a neck win in another Illinois-bred maiden race, but even without Echeverria in the race he will need to show more Saturday.

Spinster next for Lakenheath

Lakenheath is at the top of her game right now and the World Thoroughbred Championships are at her home track, but trainer Gene Cilio isn't itching to try her in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Two days after scoring her biggest win in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron, Lakenheath was still recovering from a taxing race, but Cilio expects Lakenheath to bounce back and plans to point the filly to the Grade 1 Spinster next month at Keeneland.

"Hopefully, some of the top horses would be pointing for the Breeders' Cup then and it wouldn't be quite as tough," Cilio said.

While Cilio didn't completely rule out the Breeders Cup, he's uncertain whether Lakenheath could be competitive there. "That would be a huge step up for her," he said. "There are just too many top fillies in that race."

Lakenheath ran a game race over a tiring surface to beat With Ability by a head in the Matron. Since With Ability was the controlling speed, Lakenheath had to work hard just to stay within striking range of her. Lakenheath did that, and won by a narrow margin after a stretch-long duel.

Private Son goes next in a stakes

Trainer Sally Schu said Private Son, one of the best turf horses on the grounds, will start next in a stakes race at Keeneland, but Schu has yet to decide between the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile and the ungraded Sycamore Breeders' Cup, at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

"We'll nominate to both and see if some of those horses [who may run in the Shadwell Mile] go to the Breeders' Cup instead," Schu said.

Private Son has won 2 of 5 starts this year, including a score in The Bart Handicap here Aug. 18. But his best race might have come in early July, when he finished second, beaten a quarter-length by Cetewayo, in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes.

That race, like the Sycamore, is run at 12 furlongs, but Private Son also has run well at shorter distances.

* Rene Douglas, the runaway leading jockey at this meet, will miss Saturday's card to ride Mr. Mellon in the Del Mar Derby.