12/22/2004 12:00AM

Hot play for a cold day


CHICAGO - If Hawthorne Race Course somehow manages to squeeze in its Christmas Eve Day card, racing may be conducted here using sleighs and parkas.

The forecast for Friday's high temperature is around 10 degrees, not accounting for a strong west wind and the potential of a few inches of snow on the ground.

people hoped to get the streaking 3-year-old gelding one more start before the Chicago racing season ends, but the horse might wind up staying in his barn.

His trainer, Eusebio Razo Sr., already has flown the coop, having gone home for the holidays to the warmth of his native Mexico. He has left behind a sharp horse, one going for his third straight win in Friday's first race, a second-level allowance carded at 1 1/16 miles.

The race drew just six entries, none of them confirmed pace horses, meaning Sr. Razem won't get the optimum pace setup he had here Dec. 17 when he won an entry-level allowance race by more than five lengths. But the horse is going good enough that it might not matter.

"It seems like he's putting it all together now," said Doreen Razo, the daughter-in-law of Eusebio Razo Sr. and wife of jockey Eddie Razo. "He's coming back quick, but he came out of his last race jumping around, and he ate everything up."

Mrs. Razo, in fact, spearheaded a trip to a Maryland yearling sale at which Sr. Razem was purchased. As a 2-year-old, the gawky gelding, who stands about 16-3 hands, couldn't get out of his own way.

"At first he had no idea what he was doing," Mrs. Razo said. "We had to take him home to the farm for seven months."

This year, at 3, Sr. Razem has steadily progressed, rising through the ranks of 3-year-old claimers during the fall. Now, as his body has grown stronger, and as the horse has wrapped his mind around the racing game, he is starting to look like a legitimate runner.

On Friday, he will have to beat the 4-year-old Keepitinthebag, who was hung out six wide in his last start, a second-level route allowance like this one, but still finished fourth of 10.

, however, is a rare winner, with 3 victories in 26 career starts, and his lone score this year came in a grass race.

Alpha to Omega also figures to attract some betting action, while longshot Dead Ringer could emerge as a pace factor.