04/20/2006 11:00PM

Hawthorne preview for April 22


Race 6
1 1/8 Miles
The National Jockey Club Handicap (Grade 3)
Three-year-olds and upward
Purse $250,000.

New York invaders Evening Attire and Colita should attract the lion's share of the wagering in the NJC Handicap, but value players may find a solid play in Three Hour Nap.

Three Hour Nap raced over an inside, speed-favoring track at Oaklawn last time out, and was bottled up behind horses turning for home. Once he shook clear, he angled outside, changed leads on cue, and wore down the pacesetter. He galloped out nicely after the race, and his Beyer Speed Figures are improving. A Grade 3 winner as a 2-year-old, Three Hour Nap may finally be rounding back into form, and has the tactical speed to stalk the expected moderate pace.

Colita is very consistent on the Beyer scale, and will go out for the red-hot Todd Pletcher barn. He bucked a speed-bias en route to winning an optional claimer two starts back over the Aqueduct inner dirt, but appeared a bit washy before his most recent start, the Grade 3 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap. He rallied for third as the favorite that day, but was helped by a strong pace up front, and there may not be such a favorable setup on Saturday.

Evening Attire has earned over $2.5M in his career, but the grizzled veteran may be getting a bit long in the tooth. He often breaks poorly, and has had trouble with his lead changes in his last few races. This late-runner is another that will need some help up front.

Nkosi Reigns loves Hawthorne, and was very eager in his first start of the season on March 25. Rank going into the first turn, he checked off heels before settling into a good stalking position while three wide. He should improve with that run under his belt, and figures to be up close early.

1. Three Hour Nap
2. Colita
3. Nkosi Reigns

Race 8
1 1/8 Miles
The Sixty Sails Handicap (Grade 3)
Fillies and mares
Purse $250,000.

Platinum Ballet may have finally found a field she can beat in the Sixty Sails. She has been chasing top fillies Round Pond, Happy Ticket, and Spun Sugar at Oaklawn, and should appreciate the class relief on Saturday. She draws a cozy inside post position, and her strong gallop-out after her fourth-place finish in the Apple Blossom indicates that the extra distance won't be a problem. Expect her to track a moderate pace in the early going before revving up on the final turn.

Fleet Indian may be favored. The mare has won eight of 13 starts, and earned a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure in her first start for Todd Pletcher. She may attempt to control the pace in the Sixty Sails, but she only beat three rivals in the Grade 3 Next Move, and the New York-bred will get a stiffer test at Hawthorne.

Eyes on Eddy looks like an interesting value play. She had a bit of traffic trouble when chasing talented runners Oonagh Maccool and Sweet Symphony at Gulfstream, but is a multiple stakes-winner, and attracts high-percentage rider Chris Emigh. She should be used in exotics and multi-race wagers.

1. Platinum Ballet
2. Fleet Indian
3. Eyes on Eddy