10/16/2005 11:00PM

Gun Salute back home awaiting next step

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CHICAGO - Kenny McCarthy hasn't even watched a replay of Saturday's Hawthorne Derby. The race turned out well enough in the end, so why revisit the controversy?

McCarthy, a Churchill Downs-based assistant to trainer Bill Mott, saddled the 1-5 favorite, Gun Salute, in the race. Gun Salute won, but only by a neck, and only after Cosmic Kris drew alongside him in deep stretch. And the final order of finish remained in doubt for several more minutes, as stewards - somewhat belatedly - announced an inquiry into the stretch run.

Gun Salute's problems began at the top of the stretch, when he and the fading front-runner, Thunder Mission, exchanged a hard bump. Gun Salute swerved out and crossed in front of Embossed, and a few seconds later drifted out again while Cosmic Kris was trying to get past.

"To be very honest, I haven't had the opportunity to watch the replay on it," McCarthy said Monday. When Mott saw the tape, said McCarthy, he said he thought Gun Salute "might've brushed" Cosmic Kris.

The record will show, however, that Gun Salute fought off his challenger, winning his third straight graded stakes. By Monday, he was settled back in at Churchill, awaiting further plans.

"He's back here, and he looks very good," McCarthy said. "To me he only really had to run the last three-eighths of a mile. This morning, it really looks like he has good energy about him."

Mott said last week that he planned on sending Gun Salute to California for the Hollywood Derby. But McCarthy said that the door might not have entirely closed on the Breeders' Cup, for which Gun Salute would have to be pre-entered Monday.

Mott, said McCarthy, "hasn't taken anything off the table just yet."

Campbell on sidelines

Jesse Campbell, hot at the end of Arlington and still hot at the start of Hawthorne, is tied for the lead atop the jockey standings here with 14 wins through Sunday. But Campbell has not even ridden since Thursday, having been dumped during training hours on Friday, a spill that sent him to the hospital with an injury to his back. Campbell, according to his agent, Penny Ffitch-Heyes, was to have further medical exams early this week, and hoped to begin riding again soon.

Tied with Campbell is Roman Chapa, who is spending his first full meet at Hawthorne. But Chapa's success has not come without problem, either. His agent, Bobby Kelly, remains hospitalized after a severe heart attack 10 days ago.

Just behind Campbell and Chapa comes Eddie Perez with 13 wins. Perez generally is in the top 10 in Chicago, but rarely rises this high. Equally noteworthy is the success Perry Compton has had in the last week or so. Compton has settled into a good rhythm at this meet, and through Sunday had 10 winners from 75 mounts.

Miss Terrible looks sharp

Liz on Polk Street was a bust Sunday in the $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland, but another Hawthorne-based horse, Miss Terrible, finished second by a head in the race.

Miss Terrible appeared to dislike wet turf when she faded off the pace in the Beverly D., and had come back with a disappointing performance in the Arlington Matron Handicap. Saturday, she flashed the form that once made her a champion in Argentina, closing fast to just miss catching Reunited.

"She's doing fantastic," trainer Brad Ross said Monday. "She doesn't even look like she raced. We'll take her back up to Hawthorne, and then I'm not sure what we'll do with her."

Miss Terrible turned her form around Sunday in a dirt sprint, but Ross is considering - among other races - the Grade 1 Matriarch Handicap, a one-mile grass race at Hollywood Park Nov. 27, for Miss Terrible's next start.

Miss Penny Fortune stretches out

Hawthorne's Wednesday feature comes in race 7, a third-level turf allowance with a $35,000 claiming option. The race, at one mile, drew a field of 10 fillies and mares, including a coupled entry from the barn of Christine Janks.

Miss Penny Fortune, a Kentucky shipper for trainer Jeff Thornbury, might be the most talented horse in the field, but who knows how she will perform in a two-turn race.

Miss Penny Fortune's form shows only turf sprints, most of them at five furlongs, though her pedigree suggests a horse capable of going a mile. Miss Penny Fortune figures to make a clear early lead from an inside post. What happens next will be determined by how kindly she rates for jockey Chris Emigh.