09/17/2002 11:00PM

Extra Check runs into a good one

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Coming out of a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Secretariat and into a third-level turf allowance, Extra Check figured to be settling into a winning spot. But Extra Check may only be the second most talented 3-year-old turf horse in Arlington's Friday feature. Trainer Paul McGee entered Honor in War, a powerful five-length winner of a comeback race here Aug. 11, in Friday's one-mile race, which also showcases the grass debut of the unbeaten Illinois-bred Boom City.

Extra Check, property of the Three Kings Stable and trained by Mike Stidham, first showed his affinity for grass racing last summer on this course, where he easily won a maiden race. Taken out of training this winter, Extra Check won his comeback race over second-level allowance company here in early July, then jumped into Arlington's series of 3-year-old grass stakes, finishing third in the American Derby before his surprisingly good showing in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat.

At a mile, Friday's race will demand a different sort of performance from Extra Check, but he also has run well at middle distances. He will have to if he is to beat Honor in War, who should move forward off his allowance win a month ago. McGee entered Honor in War at this class level about two weeks ago, but Honor in War had run too recently and was excluded from the race based on a dates-preference system.

"Everything's still fine," said McGee, who is pointing Honor in War to a stakes at the Keeneland meet. "I expect a big race out of him."

Honor in War showed exciting talent last year at 2, and appears to have come back from an extended injury layoff even better. He was ridden out to his recent allowance win, and by next year may wind up as a graded stakes-type grass horse.

Boom City, from the Harvey Vanier shed row, has beaten only Illinois-breds and has never raced around two turns, but with three wins in three starts he must still be respected.

- Elvis Trujillo, second-leading rider at the meet, has been handed a 10-day suspension by the Arlington stewards. Trujillo's mount Relaunch Gal was disqualified from a win here Sunday, but the severity of the suspension stemmed from a string of careless riding infractions Trujillo has accumulated here this summer. Trujillo already has been fined once and suspended twice for careless riding.

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