11/07/2007 12:00AM

Front Court finds softer spot - and dirt

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Darkness already is coming early in Chicago (get out your flashlights at about 4:30 p.m.), and so is the Friday feature.

The best race of 10 carded for Friday at Hawthorne is race 4, a third-level sprint allowance also open to $40,000 claimers that drew a competitive field of eight, only one of whom races under the allowance conditions. That is Front Court, who should be favored to do something he hasn't done in seven months - actually win a race.

Front Court finished seventh in his most recent race, but not against mainly anonymous Hawthorne allowance horses. Rather, Front Court was at Keeneland for the Grade 3 Perryville, a rich seven-furlong Polytrack race for good 3-year-olds.

"He's been running hard, but he's been facing some really tough horses," trainer Chris Richard said of Front Court's nine-race losing streak. "He just hasn't been able to get there."

Front Court almost "got there" two starts ago, finishing second by a neck here on Sept. 29 in a race just like Friday's. And it may be no coincidence that Front Court's closest call came on dirt, rather than the synthetic surfaces on which he's made 6 of his last 8 starts.

"His numbers are about the same, but personally I think he's a better dirt horse," Richard said.

A return to dirt also could send a wake-up call to Humor at Last, whose four starts since a long injury-related layoff have been disappointing. Three of those races, however, have come on Polytrack, the other on turf, and at Hawthorne, Humor at Last has put together a 3-2-0 record from 7 starts. He looks like the controlling speed from an outside draw Friday.

Riverson, who just was a close second here at this class level, plus class-droppers Monkey Hill and Pirate Saint also may factor.

Janks planning last starts of '07

It is getting to be the time of year when trainer Christine Janks pulls almost all of her best horses out of training and sends them to her farm near Ocala, Fla. That, in fact, is where Mighty Rule, winner of the Lightning Jet Handicap here last weekend, was heading Wednesday, but Janks said that several other horses that raced in Illinois-bred stakes last weekend at Hawthorne would have one more start before a winter break.

Those slated to run again in 2007 are Pretty Jenny, who faded to third as the favorite in the Powerless Handicap, and Modjadji, who closed from last to finish second in the same race. Stop a Train, second in the Illini Princess, has had a light recent schedule and also will run again this year.

Joining Mighty Rule on holiday is High Expectations, who finished third in the Lightning Jet Handicap, the victim of a heavy weight assignment, and, perhaps, declining form. Mighty Rule, on the other hand, goes to the farm after a career-best performance, and at age 4 would still appear to have his best racing in front of him.

"I think he's a pretty special horse," Janks said.

Bluesbdancing gets winter break

Among the major disappointments here in the Saturday stakes was Bluesbdancing, one of the top Illinois-bred female sprinters of the last several seasons. Bluesbdancing finished last in the Powerless, virtually eased across the wire, but trainer Terrel Gore said he could find nothing amiss with the mare.

"She ran like crap, but what happened to her, I have no idea," Gore said.

Bluesbdancing will get a winter break now, Gore said, but the plan is for her to return in the spring for a 2008 campaign.