07/02/2001 11:00PM

Expect fireworks in 4th of July stakes


Thanks to the 4th of July holiday on Wednesday, stakes racing fans won't need to wait until the weekend to get their fix of action this week. Belmont, Churchill, Hollywood, Lone Star, Louisiana, Prairie Meadows, Thistledown, and Woodbine all will feature stakes of at least $100,000.

The best racing this Independence Day will be taking place at Belmont Park, which will host three stakes races - The Poker, Tom Fool, and The Prioress, a Grade 1 sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

The Poker looks like a three-way battle between In Frank's Honor, Affirmed Success, and Union One. Union One, trained by Michael Dickinson, may offer slightly better odds that the others, however, and should be better on turf than on dirt despite running a new career-high 101 Beyer last time out on the Belmont main track.

The Tom Fool, which should be a showdown between Say Florida Sandy and Peeping Tom, is a good enough race to be a weekend feature most weeks. New York-bred 7-year-old Say Florida Sandy has never been in better form, but may have trouble beating Peeping Tom at his preferred distance of seven furlongs. Give Peeping Tom the edge.

The Prioress is a $200,000 Grade 1 for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs, and it is shaping up as an excellent precursor to Saratoga's Test Stakes on July 28. West coast shipper Above Perfection should have her hands full with Cat Chat, Harmony Lodge, and Xtra Heat, who has won 13 of her 15 career starts. Cat Chat, an undefeated daughter by Storm Cat out of Phone Chatter, is ultra-talented, but needed every step of the seven furlong distance to get the best of Xtra Heat in the Grade 2 Nassau County last time out. Xtra Heat has not won 13 of 15 races for no reason, so look for her to get revenge and win the Prioress on Wednesday.


Belmont Park, 1 mile turf, $100,000-added, Grade 3

1) 2- Union One

2) 1- In Frank's Honor

3) 4- Affirmed Success


Belmont Park, 7 furlongs, $150,000, Grade 2

1) 6- Peeping Tom

2) 1- Say Florida Sandy

3) 4- Trippi


Belmont Park, 6 furlongs, $200,000, Grade 1

1) 6- Xtra Heat

2) 1- Cat Chat

3) 5- Harmony Lodge


Hollywood Park, 1 1/8 miles turf, $150,000, Grade 2

At Hollywood Park on Wednesday, more attention might be paid to the $691,095 pick six carryover than to the actual races. Nevertheless, the Grade 2 American Handicap is a good betting race that shouldn't be overlooked.

Touch of the Blues, trained by Neil Drysdale, figures to be the favorite in the contentious seven-horse field (six betting interests) based on Beyers of 106 and 101 in his last two races. However, he has never raced further than one mile in his 18-race career and looks very vulnerable at this distance of 1 1/8 miles.

Hong Kong invader Glyndebourne looks like an intriguing x-factor in this race and should offer good value after finishing 12th out of 14 in the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby last time out on a yielding course. Glyndebourne obviously has the talent to compete at this level based on his second-place finish in last year's Irish Derby where he finished ahead of Ciro and several other talented runners. More recently, Glyndebourne was beaten just 3 1/2 lengths in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup, and he could be trouble against this field with blinkers on for this event.

National Anthem and Fateful Dream each look capable of beating Touch of the Blues at this distance with good efforts.

National Anthem has been solid since being imported from England for trainer Ron NcAnally and owner Dick Duchossois. National Anthem is apparently the only horse in this race with any early speed, and he will have a shot a going wire-to-wire if he's able to milk the pace and slow down the fractions up front.

Fateful Dream won the Inglewood Handicap two starts back at 1 1/16 miles before losing last time out at one mile. He could benefit from the stretchout to 1 1/8 miles in this race, and trainer Bobby Frankel has been winning almost every big race he's been in recently.


1) Glyndebourne

2) National Anthem

3) Fateful Dream


Glyndebourne should be a decent price, so play him to win and use him in exotics with National Anthem, and Fateful Dream.

$80 Play:

$20 win: Glyndebourne

$10 exacta box Glyndebourne - National Anthem - Fateful Dream ($60)