10/18/2006 11:00PM

Fourth-race feature overloaded with speed


CHICAGO - It is the old something-has-got-to-give scenario in the featured fourth race on Saturday at Hawthorne, where a one-mile turf race includes three definite front-end types. Any of them could contend if things went their way, but all of them could burn each other out, setting the table for an off-the-pace horse like Dastardly Deeds.

Race 4, for third-level allowance horses or $40,000 claimers, starts from the rail with Tenpointfive, who got wickedly good during the second part of the Arlington meet, but is one of the potentially compromised speed elements Saturday. Tenpointfive struggled all season to clear his first Illinois-bred allowance condition, but won an entry-level statebred race by six lengths on July 23 at Arlington, then won a second-level Illinois-bred allowance by three a month later. Three in a row? Yes, indeed. Tenpointfive scored by seven lengths in a $15,000 starter allowance Aug. 25 - and hasn't raced since.

The common denominator in Tenpointfive's Arlington wins was that the turf course was wet every time, and Tenpointfive made clear leads without having to run too fast, too soon.

That's unlikely to happen Saturday, not if Omaggio and Rapid Raj both wind up in the gate. Omaggio has been the first-call leader his last five starts, and has noted front-end jockey E.T. Baird named to ride. Rapid Raj, who has won all three of his starts over the Hawthorne turf course, has raced solely in grass sprints the last couple of seasons, and has the speed to make the front in that kind of race. He also shows a win at Saturday's one-mile trip, but will need plenty of racing luck to notch another.

Which brings us back to Dastardly Deeds, who appeared to hang a bit when he was beaten a neck at this class level Sept. 29. But not so fast. The horse that fought off Dastardly Deeds that afternoon was one Best of Buddies, who returned last weekend to upset the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby. Not such a bad loss for Dastardly Deeds after all.

Coach Jimi Lee may not like Polytrack

Trainer Jim DiVito thinks the synthetic racing surface concept is, in general, a good one. But what about hard-core dirt horses who ship into a synthetic track like Keeneland for a stakes race and can't show their best form?

That, DiVito believes, is what befell his stable star Coach Jimi Lee on Oct. 7 in the Phoenix Breeders' Cup. Well-bet at 5-2, Coach Jimi Lee didn't run terribly, checking in a close fourth of nine, but neither did he show the zing that had been present in the first four races - all dirt races - of his 2006 campaign.

"The Polytrack, it seems like a great concept," said DiVito, "but I think they'll have to have three different types of racetrack [dirt, turf, and synthetic]. Some horses aren't going to like the Polytrack - I don't think he did. He wasn't getting over it too well. Would he get used to it? Maybe. But to go up there and run, that's tough."

Coach Jimi Lee, who had trained like a bear into the Phoenix, is back at Hawthorne, and DiVito said his season isn't over yet. The Grade 1, $350,000 De Francis Dash on Nov. 25 at Laurel is on the radar screen. And since that race is on actual dirt, the Coach might have a chance in it.

* Hawthorne's place pick nine hadn't been hit since Oct. 1, and there was more than $24,000 in the carryover pool going into Wednesday's card. But Wednesday's less-than-obvious nine-race sequence produced nine $1 winning tickets, each worth $4,275.80.