04/06/2003 11:00PM

Hickey hopeful prudence will pay

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Something happened to Colorful Tour on this way to the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap. And that something is named Medaglia d'Oro.

"I didn't much feel like going up against Medaglia d'Oro," said Noel Hickey, who owns, bred, and trains Colorful Tour. "He's one of the best horses in the country."

Hickey had initially planned to run Colorful Tour, a winner of his last five starts, in the Oaklawn 'Cap, but eventually decided to await Wednesday's Grade 3, $100,000 Fifth Season at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile stakes race has drawn a well-matched field of seven, and is part of the Racing Festival of the South.

Colorful Tour's win streak dates back to Dec. 7, when he won the $43,000 Demetris Boy for statebreds at Hawthorne.

He beat open company in the $43,000 Chicago Six in his next start, and then shipped to Oaklawn, where he has won three straight races, including the Grade 3 Essex and Grade 3 Razorback, local preps for the Oaklawn 'Cap.

Colorful Tour will break from post 7 in the Fifth Season, and although he led throughout in the Razorback, he used stalking tactics to take the Essex.

"He can run from wherever he's asked to run from," said Hickey, who has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.

Colorful Tour could settle in behind Patton's Victory, a front-runner seeking his fifth straight win. Over the past five months, Patton's Victory has gone from a $7,500 claimer to win a $35,000 optional claimer, with his last four victories coming by a combined margin of 28 lengths. Alex Birzer has the mount for trainer Stanley Roberts.

Drewman should also be close to the pace early. He returned from a one-year layoff last out and stalked the pace before going on to a three-quarters of a length win in a three-other-than allowance race.

"He came out of the race well," said Harold Williams, who trains Drewman.

The reason for the long layoff was two-fold.

Drewman came out of a ninth-place finish in the $125,000 Whirlaway in February 2002 with some hind-end soreness. He was given more than six months to regroup, but when he returned to training, he suffered an unrelated, minor setback.

"He popped a splint, and that's what turned it into a year," Williams said.

Williams is a grandson of Francis Genter, who raced Drewman's sire, Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled. Jon Court has the mount Wednesday.

Others in the Fifth Season, which retained its Grade 3 status after the purse was increased by $50,000 this meet, are Windward Passage, Ask the Lord, Makors Mark, and Winning Connection.

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