05/22/2006 11:00PM

Few willing to challenge 'Gouldings'

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CHICAGO - The good news is that Gouldings Green, who beat the highly regarded Wild Desert on Kentucky Oaks Day in the Alysheba Stakes, is coming to Arlington for his second straight start in the Hanshin Handicap. The bad news is that only a few horses seem likely to challenge him.

Arlington's first graded stakes race of the 2006 season apparently is being met with a yawn by people who nominated horses to the Grade 3, $100,000 Hanshin, a one-turn mile on dirt. Of the 25 horses nominated to the race, won last year by Lord of the Game, only two horses besides Gouldings Green were considered definite entrants as of Tuesday. They are Three Hour Nap, who won the National Jockey Club Handicap in his last start, and who passed on a recent off-the-turf allowance race in favor of the Hanshin; and Semaphore Man, who finished second to the Arlington-based sprinter Coach Jimi Lee last out at Prairie Meadows. Fifteen Rounds is possible, as is the Wayne Lukas-trained With Distinction and a couple of lesser-known horses. Entries for the Hanshin were scheduled to be taken Wednesday.

Gouldings Green, trained for Melnyk Racing Stables by Tony Reinstedler, closed well for second in the 2005 Hanshin, and has only raced four times since. He won a third-level allowance race at Oaklawn to start his 2006 campaign, then finished third in the Oaklawn Handicap before his win in the Alysheba.

Live longshot in feature

A break from a weeklong monsoon has allowed Arlington to card three turf races on Thursday's nine-race program. Two are for maiden fillies, the third the featured eighth race, a second-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles. There are nine in the feature, and handicappers will find no clear-cut favorite.

The 3-year-old filly exits the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs, but finished eighth of nine and moves for the first time from age-restricted competition into a race open to older horses. Besides, her two good turf races came last winter at Louisiana Downs, and Best Mom hasn't shown as much anywhere else.

Similar holes can be punched in everyone else, and the pick to win is probable longshot rates off the pace for the second straight start. Motivated Sreva hasn't raced since October, but posted her first breeze of the season in late February, meaning Motivated Sreva has logged miles for her 2006 debut. She won over this course at this distance last summer, and is the sort of strong galloper who is often effective if left alone on the lead in a nine-furlong race.