05/03/2007 12:00AM

Fort Prado a favorite with flaws


CHICAGO - The race with the highest purse on a 12-race Kentucky Derby Day program at Arlington Park might not be the best race of the day here. The Russell L. Reineman Illinois Owners Stakes, the nominal feature and race 6 on Saturday's card, boasts a $100,000 purse, but as far as depth and overall talent, the Reineman might be partially eclipsed by the Timeless Native, a $45,000 overnight stakes carded as race 9.

There are just six in the Illinois Owners, which is restricted to horses with majority Illinois ownership and carded for 1 1/16 miles on turf. The classy turf miler Purim won the race last year, but after an excellent third in the Maker's Mark Mile last out at Keeneland, Purim, though nominated to the Arlington race, evidently will fry bigger fish elsewhere. In his absence, Fort Prado looks like a solid favorite.

Solid, that is, for a horse winless in six starts spanning almost a year. Fort Prado is 12 for 31 overall, and 5 for 7 on the Arlington grass course, and finished off a four-race winning streak last June 26 in the Black Tie Affair Stakes at Arlington. But he has not won since.

Toasted could provide stiff competition, though his best days are in the past. Toasted won the Arlington Classic by more than three lengths in 2004, but has won only once since then after missing most of 2005. Lord Carmen finished a decent third in a Keeneland turf allowance on April 21 in his first start of the season, but is a better horse at distances longer than 1 1/16 miles. Kid Grindstone exits a good second in the Fifth Season BC at Oaklawn, but looks better on dirt, while Major Rhythm is likely to be at least a race away from his best making his first start since October.

The Timeless Native's nine-horse field drew plenty of talent, including Fifteen Rounds, who was disqualified from a win in the 2006 Hanshin Handicap, a race run at one mile on Arlington's main track. That's the distance of the Timeless Native, and though the main track now is Polytrack, Fifteen Rounds turned in a fast six-furlong work over it last week. He will have to beat Throng, the first Arlington starter this year for trainer Todd Pletcher, and a horse with positive Polytrack experience. Buddy Got Even has four Polytrack wins.