09/27/2006 12:00AM

Flamethrowintexan's target in sight


The connections of very few horses across the land have zeroed in on the 2006 Hawthorne Gold Cup, or so it appears from the dearth of possible starters for Saturday?s race ? all $500,000 of it ? entries for which were to be taken Thursday. But the team behind Flamethrowintexan picked out the Gold Cup some months ago. Their horse came to Hawthorne last week, got in a work over the track on Monday, and, according to Kay Cooper, is good to go for Saturday?s race.

Cooper is the daughter of trainer Jim Penney, third-leading trainer this year at Emerald Downs in Washington. The Emerald-Hawthorne pipeline is little known ? basically, it does not exist ? but Hawthorne seemed the right destination for the Penney string when Cooper was thinking this summer of what the autumn might bring.

?Just looking at the stakes schedule, trying to find someplace new and different,? said Cooper of the decision to take 12 stalls for the Hawthorne fall meet. ?We actually ran here in, I guess, 1989.?

Penney-trained horses are expected to start in all three Saturday stakes races at Hawthorne; besides Flamethrowintexan for the Gold Cup, there is Grafton for the Robert F. Carey Memorial and Bardy Woman for the Indian Maid, both turf races. But Flamethrowintexan definitely is the Penney-Cooper stable star, having won Emerald?s biggest event of the season, the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, in his most recent start. Strangely, the horse he edged in that race, Papi Chullo, also is at Hawthorne for the Gold Cup.

Flamethrowintexan is all speed ? he?s been the first-call leader in 11 straight starts ? but he can carry his pace over a route of ground. He?s won easily at 1 1/8 miles, and Cooper said she believes Saturday?s 1 1/4-mile trip, his first try at the distance, will prove to be within Flamethrowintexan?s scope.

Even if it?s not, Flamethrowintexan still has been a major success. Claimed for $62,500 in June 2004 (Flamethrowintexan had made his debut for a $25,000 tag the fall before), Flamethrowintexan won a pair of Northwest derbies and finished second in the Lone Star Derby during the second part of his 3-year-old season. Most of the $700,000-and-change bankroll has been earned since Penney claimed him.

Flamethrowintexan could wind up the lone speed in a race that may go with only a handful of starters. Besides Flamethrowintexan and Papi Chullo, the other confirmed runners are locally based Kid Grindstone and the Todd Pletcher-trained A.P. Arrow, who was scheduled to arrive Thursday from New York. Nolan?s Cat, unraced since finishing a distant fourth in the July 29 Washington Park at Arlington, is a possible runner. Alumni Hall and It?s No Joke, both entered in Saturday?s Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway, might cross-enter in the Gold Cup on Thursday, according to their trainers.

Fort Prado part of Carey bunch

The complexion of the Carey Memorial, Hawthorne?s best turf race of the year, also is up in the air, though the race does have a solid core of likely starters, headed by Fort Prado. Fort Prado made his last start on dirt at Arlington and is seeking his first win since late spring.

Others likely for the Carey are Cloudy?s Knight, Come on Jazz, Gigawatt, Grafton, and No Tolerance. Therecomesatiger, who raced decently but finished off the board in the Woodbine mile, heads the list of possible runners. Also possible are Sampson?s Son, Scooter Roach, and T.D. Vance, according to the Hawthorne racing office.

The $100,000 Indian Maid for fillies and mares on turf drew far more nominations and figures to have a larger field than either the Gold Cup or the Carey, and could attract as many as 12 entries.

Ferrer happy to be in Chicago

How long does Jose Ferrer, the veteran rider whose tack usually has hung in New Jersey or Florida, plan to stay in Chicago? Well, Ferrer bought a house in Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb not far from Arlington Park, and said Wednesday he plans to ride year-round in Chicago.

Ferrer, 42, arrived just before the Arlington meet and did quite well there this summer, finishing sixth in the standings; his 47 wins were just 18 fewer than third-place Eddie Razo. And Ferrer has started the Hawthorne meet even stronger, with eight wins through Sunday, just one fewer than leading rider Chris Emigh.

?Thank God I came here,? said Ferrer, whose ex-wife is jockey Rosemary Homeister. ?It was a big change for me, and I needed it. I was so many years in Jersey and Florida, had a divorce. I was able to get settled here. It?s always tough when you go to a new place, but I know the process.?

Ferrer came to Arlington to ride horses for trainer Dale Bennett, but the most important regular patron he has picked up is Tom Tomillo, currently atop the Hawthorne trainer standings.

Catalano trying to snap out of it

Arlington kingpin Wayne Catalano still was looking for his first Hawthorne winner as of late Wednesday afternoon. He has another shot in the featured fifth race Friday with Omaggio, one of nine horses entered in a third-level turf allowance with a $40,000 claiming option. Camptown King, one of the nine, was entered main-track-only.

Omaggio?s most recent start, on July 26, produced a 4 1/4-length win in a second-level turf allowance. But that was Arlington, and Catalano?s stable clearly remains in recovery mode after a busy summer. Omaggio, however, is well rested, and with a couple of local preps might be ready to pick up where he left off two months ago ? if he can stay nine furlongs. More a miler type, Omaggio could be vulnerable late to a longer-winded horse like Triple X., Dastardly Deeds, or even Golden Trip.