04/25/2007 11:00PM

Field short, but talented in Land of Lincoln


CHICAGO - With only five horses entered, the Land of Lincoln Stakes drew the shortest field among six Illinois-bred stakes races Saturday at Hawthorne, but in terms of talent - or potential talent - it ranks near the top of the list.

The Land of Lincoln, for 3-year-olds at six furlongs, could even go with four horses, since Stonehouse was cross-entered in the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap. Trainer Spanky Broussard must decide whether to take advantage of the Land of Lincoln's age-restriction, or start Stonehouse at a two-turn trip he most likely prefers to sprint distances.

Stonehouse might well adapt to the shorter distance, and looks like a threat to win the Land of Lincoln - but he could also run decently and still finish last.

Likely to be favored is Caruso, who has gone four-for-four around one turn, finishing second in a two-turn loss last December. Caruso won the Sun Power Stakes by almost four lengths last fall, and started his 3-year-old campaign April 7 by beating open company in the Lost Code Stakes. Trainer Richard Hazelton was quick to concede that Caruso had raced over the best part of an inside-biased track that day. On the other hand, Caruso has won at three tracks, and from slightly off the pace as well as on the lead.

Chillin Villain won his first two starts last season before being outrun by Caruso in the Sun Power. He makes his first start of the season, showing two Hawthorne works since shipping north from trainer Christine Janks' winter base in Florida.

"He's not as ready as I'd like him, but he's ready enough, and that's the spot for him," Janks said.

Chief Thief won three races in a row over open company this winter at Tampa Bay Downs, while Icandazzle has improved by leaps and bounds in his last two starts, winning them by a combined 14 1/2 lengths.

Chicagoland Handicap

The Illinois-bred sprint division has no clear leader this year, and if Sub Futz Jr can duplicate the form he showed this spring at Oaklawn Park, the Chicagoland Handicap could be his for the taking. But that's a big "if."

"He trained like he really liked Hot Springs," said Hugh Robertson, for whom Sub Futz Jr starts Saturday. "I don't know if he'll be as good here."

Racing for Robertson's son, Mac, Sub Futz Jr won an open second-level allowance race on March 31 by more than eight lengths. Still eligible for the same allowance condition, most likely because of wins in statebred-restricted races, Sub Futz Jr came back at the same class level 12 days later, probably regressed a little, and still won by four lengths. He has won two of nine at Hawthorne, but who knows, at age 5, Sub Futz Jr might have just turned a corner.

If Sub Futz Jr isn't favored in the Chicagoland, High Expectations should be. He won the White Oak over six furlongs last summer at Arlington, and finished second last November at Hawthorne in the Lightning Jet Handicap. High Expectations comes from far back in his sprint races, meaning his chances depend heavily on racing luck and the early pace.

Last Gran Standing took a nice forward move April 7 in his second race back from a year-plus layoff, and has a decent shot at a minor upset.

Governor's Lady

Pretty Jenny won five of six starts in 2005, her first year of racing, but after some mid-summer struggles in 2006, managed to avoid a sophomore slump. She wound up winning her last three starts of the year by open lengths, and comes into 2007 sitting firmly atop the Illinois-bred female sprint division.

Pretty Jenny was one of seven fillies and mares entered in the six-furlong Governor's Lady, but realistically, only one horse has a decent chance to knock her off. That is Bluesbdancing, a fine mare in her own right, and a winner by a length over Pretty Jenny in the 2006 Governor's Lady.

Bluesbdancing has a recency edge, having won an allowance race March 10 at Hawthorne, and she also has drawn outside Pretty Jenny, another potential positive. But Pretty Jenny enters off a string of impressive workouts and may be ready for something close to a top race in her first start of the year.

Peach of It Handicap

Had Stop a Train shown much of anything in her first start of 2007, she'd be a solid favorite in the Peach of It Handicap, but Stop a Train clunked in her season debut, finishing a distant fifth of sixth in an overnight stakes race at Hawthorne, and she'll need to improve significantly to win the Peach of It. Stop a Train is part of a Christine Janks-trained entry with Ms. Lydonia, and since Chris Emigh was named to ride both horses, one is likely to scratch.

Turbulent Thinking, a claimer for much of her career, has won three of her last four starts and five of eight since trainer Roger Brueggemann claimed her last spring. She has some speed, the rail draw, and a chance to win the 1 1/16-mile Peach of It. Unreal Rocket should improve in her second start of the season. And Dyna Slam faced open company at Fair Grounds all winter.

Lady Hallie

The top three finishers from last fall's Showtime Deb Stakes - Magnetic Miss, Rich N Clever, and Copper State, all are back for the Lady Hallie, for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. But two Chris Block-trained newcomers to stakes company, Secret Kin and Little Star, might crash that trio's party.