04/15/2008 11:00PM

Good and Lucky travels a long way


STICKNEY, Ill. - Call him the Manitoba Marauder, or maybe the Winnipeg Whiz. Okay - pro wrestling nicknames might not be working, but it is not every day that a horse with racing experience at Assiniboia Downs has a good chance to win a graded stakes in the United States.

Yet that is the position solidly occupied by Good and Lucky, who, if all things go well, will travel by van from trainer Josie Carroll's home base at Woodbine Race Course to Hawthorne after he trains Thursday morning. Good and Lucky, along with Mr. Champ, Mister Triester, Fairbanks, and Ryan's for Real comprise the five-horse field entered in Saturday's $200,000 Bill Hartack Memorial Handicap, formerly called the National Jockey Club Handicap.

Good and Lucky, a 5-year-old Wild Rush gelding owned by James and Alice Sapara, has made only 13 starts and has won 6 of them. An injury knocked him off course about a year ago, but Good and Lucky has won both his starts in 2008, and won them well. He beat the talented Storm Treasure in his comeback race and was almost three lengths better than the listed-stakes-type Crossword last out at Delta Downs.

It is some 1,740 miles from little Assiniboia in Winnipeg (central Canada, not all that far from the Minnesota border) to New Orleans, but it has been in Louisiana - where Carroll keeps a winter string - that Good and Lucky has done his best work. He has won three of his starts at Fair Grounds by open lengths and was not a bad fourth to the sharp Master Command in the 2007 New Orleans Handicap.

That is a long way from maiden and entry-level allowance races at Assiniboia, but Good and Lucky ran in those, too. That was back in 2006, when Good and Lucky was making his way back into form after starting twice for Carroll in 2005 and going down with an injury. Good and Lucky won once and lost twice racing for an octogenarian trainer named Arthur Blake in Winnipeg, went back to Woodbine later in the year, and that winter won the Woodchopper at Fair Grounds by more than four lengths. Good things happened once Good and Lucky stretched out from sprints to two-turn races.

"I think we always thought he was a two-turn horse," said Carroll, who trained Good and Lucky for owner Robert Mitchell before Mitchell sold to the Saparas. "From day one, though, we thought he was a very nice horse."

Good and Lucky adapted to the tight turns of Delta Downs and also raced under lights for the first time. Carroll, who last ran a horse at Hawthorne in 1998, said she's not concerned with shipping or a new and different sort of racetrack for Good and Lucky.

"Physically, he's always been a great-looking horse, long-striding and easy-moving," she said. "Mentally, he's just kind of hitting his stride right now."

Controversial disqualification

There has been something of an uproar over a disqualification in Sunday's sixth race, in which Island Miss, a 2 1/2-length winner, was disqualified and placed last of six for causing interference. The short comment for Island Miss on the official chart of the race pretty much sums things up: "Came over slightly."

Making an early move while three or four paths wide under jockey Jose Ferrer, Island Miss either did or did not come over on Swingin Sting, ridden along about two paths off the rail by Jerry LaSala. Swingin Sting was checked hard and impeded Ally's Golden Smile and jockey Trey Agilar, who raced along the inside. The stewards - association steward Rick Evans and state stewards Eddie Arroyo and Joe Lindeman - posted the inquiry sign, and Lasala lodged an objection.

"After speaking with all the riders involved in the incident, we disqualified the 4 [Island Miss] for angling in on the turn, causing a chain reaction, which resulted in the 3 [Ally's Golden Smile] hitting the rail, and the rider of the 6 [Swingin Sting] having to check sharply," Evans said Wednesday.

"I just thought it was a bad call," said Ferrer, who was not suspended for his actions. "Like I told the stewards, when you make turns, every horse is going to drop in at least a little."

LaSala, unsurprisingly, had a different perspective.

"I got pressure from the outside horses," he said. "The seven horse came right down in my path. If I don't snatch up, I fall."

The furor over the disqualification stems from the fact that Island Miss did not sharply veer from her path, and on the pan shot of the incident, one only sees the two other riders checking.

Owen Rainwater, the owner-trainer of Island Miss, has appealed the ruling with the Illinois Racing Board.

Gallant Dreamer back from layoff

If this were last September or October, Gallant Dreramer would look mighty tough to beat in the featured sixth race here Friday. But it is April now, more than eight months since Gallant Dreamer last raced, which makes her no sure thing in a third-level sprint allowance also open to $35,000-$40,000 claimers.