07/16/2001 11:00PM

Guided Tour will go in Washington Cap

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The connections of Guided Tour have chosen Arlington's Washington Park Handicap over the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

Guided Tour beat Captain Steve and won the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill in his most recent start, which makes him the star attraction in Saturday's Grade 2 Washington Park, which has had a purse raise to $400,000 and a distance shift to 1 1/4 miles this year.

Guided Tour, the 116-pound highweight, has never won a 10-furlong race. "He's 0 for 4 and that's a concern for me," owner Morton Fink said Tuesday morning. "But Larry and Niall aren't worried about it."

Larry and Niall are Guided Tour's jockey, Larry Melancon, and trainer, Niall O'Callaghan. Both feel that subpar performances, not distance limitations, compromised Guided Tour in two of his losses at the distance. Both were pleased with Guided Tour's second-place finish in the 10-furlong Hawthorne Gold Cup last year, and even Fink acknowledges Guided Tour's terrible trip in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic constituted a throw-out race.

Fink lives in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook. Guided Tour has run six times in Chicago but has won only once, an allowance race in the fall of 1999.

Guided Tour will be joined in the Washington Park by fellow Churchill Downs shipper Duckhorn, who won the Hawthorne Gold Cup in May. Three horses are due in from the East Coast, Milwaukee Brew, Gander, and Estio, while A Fleets Dancer is scheduled to ship in from Canada. Chicago Six, who beat Guided Tour in the National Jockey Club Handicap this spring, is the sole locally based horse slated to start.

Baptize now listed as 'possible'

Assistant trainer Ralph Nicks contradicted Arlington racing officials Tuesday when he said the 3-year-old colt Baptize remained a possible starter in the Grade 2 American Derby here Sunday.

The American Derby is the second leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, a three-race turf series for 3-year-olds. Baptize powerfully won the first leg, the June 30 Arlington Classic. Baptize was scheduled to breeze Wednesday at Churchill and Nicks said he and trainer Bill Mott would evaluate the colt's status later in the day.

His absence would make Royal Spy and Sligo Bay the favorites in the 1 3/16-mile American Derby. Royal Spy, who was scheduled to arrive at Arlington by van late Tuesday morning after shipping from Lone Star, has won all three of his grass races. He is trained by Cole Norman and owned by K. K. Jayaraman. After an allowance win, Royal Spy won the USA Stakes by more than nine lengths over a soft turf course (Baptize didn't handle the course and finished off the board) and the Grand Prairie Challenge by seven lengths.

"It seemed like he was the only one who handled the wet turf in the USA," Norman said, "so we didn't really know. But he came back and did it again."

Anthony Lovato will fly in to ride Royal Spy.

Sligo Bay and six other horses shipped here last week for trainer Beau Greely. Sligo Bay, a European import, won the May 20 Cinema Handicap in his only U.S. start. He was Group 1-placed in France as a 2-year-old.

Cherokee Kim, Fan Club's Mister, Rahy's Secret, and Monsieur Cat also are expected for the American Derby.

Filly copes with heart condition

Sabathani, who hasn't run since being eased in a May 17 race at Churchill Downs, was entered in the sixth race here Thursday. Sabathani suffers from heart arrhythmia, a condition also found in humans, and it was at the root of her failed race two months ago.

Sabathani ended up at a clinic after her last race, where she was put on medication and hooked to an EKG for continuous monitoring. Her heartbeat was stabilized by the course of treatment and Sabathani, a 4-year-old Illinois-bred filly owned by Carolyn and Joe Friedburg, has been able to maintain a regular work pattern here for trainer Richie Scherer.