11/14/2005 12:00AM

Fairmount shippers prove quite capable


CHICAGO - Fairmount Park is not open for racing at the moment, and even when it is, not a whole lot of people outside the region tend to notice. The small track - formerly known as Cahokia Downs - that sits on the Illinois side of the St. Louis metro area is mired in a cycle of low purses and problematic handle trends.

But, as Hawthorne fans learned Saturday, there still are some fast horses at Fairmount. Downstate-based stock won two of the six Illinois-bred stakes here last Saturday, and for good measure, trainer Leroy Hellman, who already had run one-three in the Powerless Handicap, also took the Saturday nightcap. That was with a grass horse, Canyon De Oro, who doesn't even have a chance to run on his preferred surface at his home track, since Fairmount doesn't have turf racing.

While Hellman took two, the Fairmount Park-based Mike Nance sent out perhaps the day's most impressive winner, Knowwhat-imean. Knowwhatimean won the six-furlong Lightning Jet despite a strange incident at the starting gate, rallying from last to first with a dizzying stretch run. Knowwhatimean was unbalanced just as the starter sprang the gates, and jockey Seth Martinez reached out for the side of the stall just as the doors swung open. Watch the head-on replay in slow motion and you can see Martinez's arm resting on metal as the other horses are springing into stride. Watch further, and see Knowwhatimean, 12th and more than 10 lengths behind the leaders going into the far turn, zigzag his way through the stretch to post a half-length victory.

The Hellman-trained Denoun N Deverb did things the easy way winning the six-furlong Powerless: She seized the lead at the start, and though briefly headed, led most of the way, holding on by a nose.

"I didn't think it was going to be that close, really," Hellman said Monday morning. "The last couple races she won by 10 and 12 lengths. Mentally, she was prepared to win this race. She thought she could beat anybody."

Hellman, a native of the Collinsville, Ill., area, winters at Sam Houston in Texas, but does strong work all summer at Fairmount and points beyond. Hauling horses around the Midwest in his own trailer, Hellman uses Fairmount as a nexus of opportunity for the better horses in his stable.

"I'm sitting right here in the middle," said Hellman, who gets help from his son, Rusty. "I can go to Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Chicago. That's why I like it. All the interstates run here right to St. Louis. Four and a half hours, I'm there."

The driving can get taxing, Hellman conceded. But surely the trip home to Fairmount goes much faster when you've just raided Chicago for more than $82,000 worth of purse money.

Injury fails to slow Last Gran Standing

Last Gran Standing won the Sun Power Stakes on Saturday despite grabbing a quarter just after the break and running the rest of the way on an injured foot. Running his record to 3 for 3, the 2-year-old Last Gran Standing was in contention from the start and scored by 3 1/2 lengths over Silver Titan.

Monday, the foot looked "pretty good," according to trainer Brian Williamson.

"It's still a little tender. He took a little piece of his heel and the bottom of his foot, the quarter there. Other than that, he came back good; he ate up and everything," Williamson said.

Williamson figured that Last Gran Standing could be ready for the Jim Edgar Futurity here on Dec. 17, if his connections elect to point for that race.

"I think we should be okay by then," he said. "I'm not really worried about it, as far as fitness or anything."

Lord of the Game bound for Florida

Lord of the Game wasn't even nominated to the Clark Handicap on Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs, with trainer Tom Tomillo opting to give the horse a break after a testing month of October. Lord of the Game was vanned from Hawthorne to Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup Classic, but wound up excluded from that race and was shipped from New York to Kentucky for the Oct. 29 Fayette Handicap. There, he turned in a subpar performance and finished off the board, and came back to Chicago a tired horse.

"That last trip knocked him sideways a little bit," said Tomillo, who trains Lord of the Game for owner Bill Slevin. "I'm going to give him some time. There's nothing wrong with him."

Tomillo usually sends a string to Fair Grounds for the winter, but with the Fair Grounds meet abbreviated and moved to Louisiana Downs this year, Tomillo is instead sending 15 head to Gulfstream Park, among them Lord of the Game.

"Once he's ready, he will race sometime this winter," Tomillo said.

* Racing was canceled because of high winds after three races here Sunday. Gusts of more than 50 miles per hour blew through the area.

* The Wednesday feature, race 4, is a second-level route allowance that drew a field of seven fillies and mares. Tea is Served, Dottie Booth, and The Bohemian Girl look like the favorites.