03/14/2002 1:00AM

Hattiesburg looks like solid favorite in Cicero


Hattiesburg, one of the top 3-year-old filly sprinters in the Midwest last year, will be a strong favorite to build on her success in Saturday's $100,000 Cicero Handicap for fillies and mares at Sportsman's Park.

Hattiesburg, the highweight in the six-furlong stakes at 118 pounds, is the only graded stakes winner in the eight-horse field. Last July 14, Hattiesburg rallied from 10th to win Calder's Grade 3 Azalea at six furlongs by a half-length. Before her win in the Azalea, Hattiesburg won stakes at Prairie Meadows, Lone Star, and Arlington.

Hattiesburg disappointed against older fillies in stakes at Ellis and Belmont after her Calder win, but rebounded with a second behind the talented Nasty Storm in the Raven Run at Keeneland.

Following an allowance win at Churchill, Hattiesburg was shipped to New Orleans by trainer Tom Amoss. She started twice at Fair Grounds, most recently in the Pan Zareta Stakes on Feb. 9, where she finished third behind My Brent's Diamond and Hallowed Dreams.

Hattiesburg arrived in good order at Sportsman's earlier this week and will be difficult to beat with her best race. Shane Laviolette has the mount.

Relatively little separates the rest of the Cicero cast, and a case could have been made for nearly all of them if Hattiesburg had not been entered.

Capitol View, who was beaten on the line in last year's Cicero Handicap, may be the best of the locally based mares. The 7-year-old Capitol View has not started since December, but has fired fresh in the past. She won the Powerless Stakes for Illinois-breds at Hawthorne last November following a layoff of nearly five months.

Three mares who have competed at Mountaineer Park in recent months should be competitive. Keepondealing, a dual stakes winner this winter, and French Teacher, from owner Richard Englander's powerful stable, took turns beating each other in open allowances at Mountaineer last month. Keepondealing has finished first or second in her last seven starts, while French Teacher's claim to fame was an authoritative win in the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper at Canterbury Park last summer.

The other Mountaineer based filly, Marciann, has been a dominant performer in Indiana-bred stakes at the last two Hoosier Park meets, but finished a close second behind Keepondealing in the New Year's Eve Handicap in her last start.

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