09/21/2005 11:00PM

Fort Prado has nice setup in Carey

Lou Hodges Jr.
G P Fleet (right), winning the Fair Grounds BC Handicap, has an upset shot in the Carey.

CHICAGO - When Fort Prado, Chicago's best middle-distance turf horse, went to Woodbine for the Aug. 27 Play the King Handicap, trainer Chris Block had no illusions. He believed that at seven furlongs, the Play the King would change the way Fort Prado, a natural eight- or 8 1/2-furlong horse, would race. Block predicted Fort Prado would fall farther behind the early leaders than usual and need to find some way through a bulky field. Block was dead right, and Fort Prado had no luck, trying to weave his way through traffic in the stretch after racing in 12th place on the Woodbine backstretch. When a slight hole finally opened, it was too late, and Fort Prado actually did well to finish fifth of 13, beaten less than three lengths.

Saturday, in the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne, things are entirely different. Fort Prado is at home, racing on a course where he has won before. He stretches back out to a mile - perhaps his best trip - is reunited with regular rider Eddie Razo, and lands in a race toward which Block has pointed him for months.

So, all things being equal, should win the Grade 3, $150,000 Carey. And Fort Prado possesses a great equalizer: brilliant acceleration that he unleashes somewhere in the stretch run, a turn of foot that can shoot him out of trouble and into the lead in a matter of strides. Fort Prado has post 6 in a nine-horse field and should secure good position stalking what figures to be a fast pace.

The speed horses are many. , Old Deuteronomy, Wimplestiltskin, and the stretchout sprinter Just See James all want to race at least close to the front end. Barring the bizarre, the early pace should set up the Carey for a closer. While Fort Prado is the most likely, Remind might also have a chance. Remind, from the Bill Mott barn, was favored at 4-5 in his last start, the Sea O'Erin at Arlington, but never really got untracked. He finished third, beaten more than five lengths by Fort Prado and four by the improving Old Deuteronomy. But Remind is capable of better and has been working steadily at Churchill Downs with Mott's Kentucky string.

In from Monmouth Park for trainer Linda Rice is the capable Spruce Run, a solid listed stakes horse, while is in from Churchill for trainer Steve Flint. But of all the upset candidates, Old Deuteronomy might deserve the longest look, negative pace scenario or not. Lightly raced this year, Old Deuteronomy has taken major strides in his last several races and might be sitting on another big one for trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

Indian Maid: Sister Swank primed

Completing the Gold Cup Day stakes lineup at Hawthorne is Indian Maid Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile grass race for fillies and mares, with a $150,000 purse that includes $50,000 in Breeders' Cup money.

Sister Swank has not started since May 5 but might still be the one to beat for trainer Steve Asmussen. A Grade 3 winner last season, and a strikingly consistent middle-distance turf horse, Sister Swank has been breezing like clockwork at Arlington for her comeback race. With three works over the grass, she should be primed for her first start back. Arlington's leading rider, Shaun Bridgmohan, has the call.