12/18/2012 5:27PM

Hawthorne notes: Geier looking southward with talented Street Spice, Fordubai


STICKNEY, Ill. - Trainer Greg Geier has a pair of promising 2-year-olds for owner-breeder Jim Tafel. The question as the calendar flips over to 2013 is what he will be able to do with them.

In Sunday's third race at Hawthorne, Geier sent both horses out in the same first-level, two-turn allowance race. Street Spice wound up winning by a half-length over Fordubai, with both horses clearly superior to the opposition - and clearly still very much in the learning phase of their career. Street Spice, a son of two Tafel horses, Street Sense and Allspice, got the better trip of the pair, but weaved back and forth in the stretch run before straightening out just before the wire to turn back his stablemate. Fordubai, racing inside much of the trip, ran up on heels at about the half-mile pole, was trapped behind three front-runners the entire second turn, and also raced greenly through the stretch once he was wheeled out for a clear run.

"They're both very good horses, I think," Geier said. "Street Spice, he's still learning. When he lost [on Nov. 18], he backed out of it when a horse came over on him on the turn. Fordubai, he probably should have won on Sunday. He ran pretty green."

In a typical year, Street Spice and Fordubai would have run this month at Fair Grounds, Geier's regular winter base, and not Hawthorne. But Geier is stuck indefinitely in Chicago because of the equine herpesvirus outbreak that has led to a quarantine at Hawthorne. Horses have been permitted to leave the track here only for other designated quarantine facilities, not other tracks.

Geier, though, remains hopeful of running one or both the 2-year-olds in the Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 26 at Fair Grounds. Fair Grounds' last statement on Hawthorne-based horses was that none would be allowed into the track until further notice was given, but Fair Grounds figures to revisit the situation once the Hawthorne quarantine is lifted.
"All we can do is play it by ear, wait and see what happens," Geier said. "You can't blame people for not wanting you to ship in."

Emigh resurgent

There's a jockeys' race on at Hawthorne, with apprentice Alex Canchari up by two wins over Seth Martinez, 48-46, entering this racing week. Also in range, with 41 wins, is an entirely unexpected name - Chris Emigh.

Emigh, 41, once was a perennial contender for leading-rider honors at Hawthorne, but his business had slipped considerably the last couple seasons. Last fall at Hawthorne, he won with only 29 of 236 mounts, and at Hawthorne's spring meet this year, Emigh went 15 for 115. Arlington was similarly lean, with Emigh riding only 26 winners from 248 tries.
"I had two of the worst meets in Chicago I've ever had," Emigh said. "I didn't even make the top 10, which I don't think had ever happened. I wondered if maybe my time in Chicago was up."

The Emigh revitalization owes mainly to two stables - the two leading stables this meet, in fact. Emigh has long ridden for trainer Scott Becker, for whom  he has won 17 races at the ongoing meet, but it was only by chance earlier in the fall that he has picked up mounts for trainer Roger Brueggemann and the Midwest Thoroughbreds operation of Rich and Karen Papiese. Emigh has 12 winners at the meet for Brueggemann.

"Having those two outfits behind you makes it a lot easier," Emigh said. "You start winning, you get confident again."