10/02/2006 11:00PM

Experience in one co-feature, potential in the other


CHICAGO - Six older allowance horses with well-established form, or nine still finding their way in the equine world? Take your pick - either race 5, the second-level allowance, or race 8, an entry-level allowance for 2-year-olds, could serve as the feature on Thursday at Hawthorne Race Course.

The eighth seems more interesting; it drew a larger field than the six-horse fifth, and has some horses that seem genuinely talented.

Not that the fifth-race females are bad. The main question in the fifth race may be this: Does Jennie R. run as well on dirt as she did a couple seasons ago, before her connections switched her almost exclusively to grass racing? If Jennie R. can handle dirt, she may prove to be the controlling speed in the fifth - and could end a long, long stay in the second allowance condition. Jennie R. won an entry-level allowance in 2004, when she actually looked like a comer, but was shut out in 10 starts last year, and is 0 for 3 during an abbreviated 2006 campaign. She does retain her decent route speed, however, and trainer Michelle Boyce is putting blinkers back on Jennie R. for Thursday's race. Velvet Peaks and Julie Truly appear to lead the closing contingent.

The eighth, for 2-year-olds at six furlongs, has no shortage of pace, and the race includes Irish Dreamer, described by his trainer, Chris Richard, as comparable to a Quarter Horse in terms of quickness from the gate. Irish Dreamer broke like a shot and never was threatened winning his career debut July 21 at Arlington, but failed to establish a clear early lead in the Spectacular Bid, where he wound up second by 13 lengths to Officer Rocket, or in the one-mile Arlington-Washington Futurity, where he dueled and faded to a distant ninth. But Thursday, back at six furlongs and back with allowance horses, Irish Dreamer should be much more effective.

His principal rival may be Piratesonthelake, who needed three tries to win a maiden race at Arlington, but ran well in all of his starts there. Piratesonthelake hooked the talented colt Loose Leaf when he finished second in his debut, then was third to Street Sense and Izzie's Halo - two more good ones - next time out, before graduating by 1 3/4 lengths on Sept. 10. Since shipping into Hawthorne, Piratesonthelake has turned in two breezes for trainer Jim DiVito, going six furlongs in Sept. 20 and a solid five-eighths a week later: He does not seem to have lost his Arlington spark.