04/05/2008 12:00AM

Geier tries to keep rolling with Rags


STICKNEY, Ill. – Greg Geier wintered at Tampa Bay Downs last year. Nothing against Tampa Bay, which has admirably served any number of horsemen, but Geier is a Fair Grounds guy from a time even farther back than his long spell as the main Fair Grounds assistant to the late trainer Gene Cilio. Back in New Orleans again this winter, Geier won six races with a 15-horse stable, and now is reaping the benefits of spending several months on the lauded Fair Grounds main track.

“My horses all are doing good here,” Geier said Saturday afternoon, moments after winning Hawthorne’s second race with Saratoga Vicar, who had raced four times at Fair Grounds.

Friday, Geier won the fourth race with Unbridled Vicar, who almost beat Illinois Derby winner Denis of Cork in a Fair Grounds allowance race, and could have run as a longshot Saturday in the Illinois Derby here. Instead, Geier chose an easier path, and will find a stakes race somewhere for Unbridled Vicar next time.

Monday, in the featured eighth race at Hawthorne, it’s the turn of Unbridled Vicar’s 4-year-old half-brother, Rags, who comes off a good-looking victory on March 7 at Fair Grounds. By Aptitude and out of the mare Unaffordable, Rags was bred and is owned by Jim Tafel, who began sending stock to Cilio several years before the longtime trainer died.

Rags debuted last September at Arlington, and was okay in his first couple of starts, but it was not until he stretched out to two turns that Rags’s talent started to shine. Third to a sharp winner in a short-stretch one-mile race at Fair Grounds on Feb. 8, Rags drew into an off-the-turf maiden race in his most recent start, and in his first route race using a full stretch he won off by almost four lengths.

Rags has posted one timed workout since shipping north to Hawthorne, but Geier said Rags is in excellent shape. Rags drew post 10 in a 12-horse field, but figures to drop back and make one run in any case, and the post alone should not beat him, especially with several speed types entered in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Drawn better, but perhaps with less raw ability, is Revivalist, who for the second time in his career returned from a long layoff with a victory. The recent comeback win was on March 13 in a $17,500 conditioned claimer, but Revivalist has done well enough since then to earn a spot in allowance company.

“I thought it was worth taking a shot,” said trainer Brian Williamson.