09/14/2003 11:00PM

General's Sword loves it here


CHICAGO - His trainer says it is not the cut of the turf, or the prairie air, or anything at all in particular about Arlington Park. But for whatever reason, the racing gods have smiled on General's Sword when he runs here. Other places, they have mocked him.

At Arlington, General's Sword has made 13 starts, winning six and finishing second or third in three others. In 14 starts at other tracks - nothing. Generals Sword has never won, and of the $147,908 in his bankroll, $141,000 has been earned in Arlington races. Once, at Gulfstream Park, he finished first, but was disqualified in a decision that still dismays trainer Dennis Ebert.

For all General Sword's success at Arlington, Ebert is slow to accept the horse-for-course theory. "He's run good races here, but he's run well at Gulfstream, and he actually ran well at Tampa," Ebert said.

Wednesday, in the featured eighth race, General's Sword tries for his fourth straight win over the Arlington grass course. He has only five opponents, including Ivan Jay Perry and Lacer, who also do their best on this course.

But the biggest threat to General's Sword's win streak may be Stormy Impact, a 4-year-old colt who has never won a turf race anywhere. He came close here Aug. 30, when he was beaten less than a length in a race at this class level - for fourth-level allowance horses or $80,000 claimers - and as the controlling speed in a short field, Stormy Impact may prove difficult to catch. The Hall of Fame rider Earlie Fires does as well as anyone at Arlington with front-running grass horses.

General's Sword and his jockey Chris Emigh may get first run on Stormy Impact. General's Sword had gone 11 months between wins, and made his first Arlington grass start on June 14, rallying from the back of the field to win by three lengths. He has stayed closer to the pace in two subsequent wins, and is doing well enough that Ebert entered him in an overnight stakes race on Sunday.

"We scratched him, but I almost left him in there," he said. "I thought this might be a little bit easier spot for him."

Ivan Jay Perry, an exacta horse nine times in 14 starts on Arlington's turf, won a race in which Stormy Impact finished third. Lacer was a close fourth in the John Henry Handicap. But both horses like to rally from off the pace, and there may not be much of it in Wednesday's race.