05/23/2004 11:00PM

Geier's barn enjoying reversal of fortune


CHICAGO - Last week, Greg Geier said everything was clicking for his stable. And things hadn't even gotten really good then.

Saturday, more luck rained down on Geier's stable. Arlington's turf course was too soggy to use, and the featured overnight handicap was shifted to dirt. Princess Pelona, who Geier trains for owner Pope McLean, would have been something like fourth choice on grass, but on the main track she was an odds-on favorite and won by 4 1/2 lengths.

Her win gave Geier four for the young meet, tying him with Frank Kirby atop the Arlington trainer standings. Geier's stable, run partly by Andy Hansen, has won about $88,000 in purses so far, close to $20,000 more than the next-highest total at the meet.

Geier claims there have been no ritual sacrifices, no appeals to a higher power. He laughs at Princess Pelona's good luck.

"How about that, huh? That was a beautiful thing," he said. "I don't know how lucky we're going to get. Somebody's looking out for us."

There is irony to Geier's recent run. Princess Pelona and Flip, two of the barn's Arlington winners, went down with injuries during the spring of 2003 at Keeneland. Also lost then were Allspice, who won the Sixty Sails in her most recent start, Shrewd Stipulation, second in a comeback race here last week, and Major Frank, who returns from his long layoff in one of two second-level allowance races on Wednesday's card.

"He was just about ready to run down at Fair Grounds, but Mr. D. said to go ahead and wait for Arlington," Geier said.

Mr. D. is Dick Duchossois, for whom Geier's former boss, Gene Cilio, began training a few seasons ago. Three springs ago, Major Frank won his maiden at first asking in New Orleans, and in his final start before injuring a tendon, Major Frank won there again.

"He's fine now," Geier said. "He's been training excellent."

Major Frank will have to beat El Condor and Commander Hal in the nine-furlong turf race. El Condor's stamina seems suited to slightly shorter races, while Commander Hal might not be quite good enough, leaving Major Frank a potential opening.

Major Frank's long layoff is the concern in the seventh race. In the eighth, the other second-level allowance, it is a somewhat quick turnaround for Rich City Girl that handicappers should ponder.

Rich City Girl probably is the best horse in this six-furlong filly-and-mare sprint, but she comes out of narrow loss in a fast race May 10 at Hawthorne, her first start in 10 months. Her trainer, Christine Janks, subscribes to the bounce theory, but doesn't believe it applies to Rich City Girl.

"The bounce definitely exists, but it depends on what their first race was like, and what they did after," Janks said. "She wasn't fully stressed in her last race, so I think she'll come back fine."

Janks chose not to work Rich City Girl between starts, believing her comeback race got the filly fit. A solid performance probably would make Rich City Girl a winner over Del Rae, Cherokee's Disco, and other fringe contenders.

Silver Bid impressive in prep

The connections of Silver Bid figured to be using Sunday's allowance feature as a prep for the White Oak Handicap, an Illinois-bred stakes race, here in June. Perhaps, but that didn't stop Silver Bid from winning impressively. In a six-furlong race filled with pace, Silver Bid made the lead and opened up with a powerful burst around the turn. Without a Doubt, the 9-5 favorite, came to him in midstretch, but Silver Bid held him off to win by a head in 1:09.61.

"He's so consistent. He just seems to get better and better," trainer Joel Berndt said of Silver Bid, the 6-year-old star of his stable. "I don't know if he's any better than last year - he was so good last year. But he's certainly at least as good. We're in pretty good shape for Illinois Day."

The 9-year-old Magic Doe, another White Oak hopeful, finished a respectable fifth in his second start of the season. Chindi, a 10-year-old, rallied for third on a surface that promoted speed horses after a downpour late in the program.

Kodema likely to ship for Hanshin

Add Kodema to the list of likely starters in Saturday's $100,000 Hanshin Handicap, the first open stakes race this meet. Trainer David Carroll, based at Churchill Downs, said Kodema had turned in a satisfactory work Monday morning and was under strong consideration for the race.

Arlington racing officials are expecting a field of about seven for the Grade 3 Hanshin, contested at one mile on dirt. Included in the list of probable starters are three strong locally-based horses, Apt to Be, Coach Jimi Lee, and Wiggins. Apt to Be won the race last season. Also expected from Kentucky is the proven graded stakes horse Crafty Shaw.