06/26/2002 11:00PM

House horse makes U.S. debut in Classic


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Between 1989 and 1993, Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois won 10 stakes races at his own track. But since Quentin Corner won the Explosive Darling in 1993, Duchossois has not won any.

It is not for lack of trying. Duchossois breeds his own racehorses and has several stabled here with trainers Chris Block and Gene Cilio. Duchossois often has higher-class turf horses on the West Coast, and he occasionally dips into the European market, trying to come up with a stakes horse to campaign in this country.

Duchossois may have found one in Stonemason, who traveled to Chicago from Hollywood Park earlier this week for the Arlington Classic. Stonemason flew with stablemate and Classic rival Doc Holiday, who probably will be no worse than the second choice Saturday. Stonemason will receive less support, if for no reason other than his form is more difficult to read.

Stonemason has raced only once this year and, more importantly, has never started in the United States. Trainer Wally Dollase, who travels to Europe looking for horses about three times a year, found out about the colt, went to trainer Aidan O'Brien's training yard in Ireland, watched Stonemason train, and liked what he saw.

"I've only had him about a month, but Aidan O'Brien said he was probably about a length and a half or two lengths off his top horses," Dollase said.

While Doc Holiday will be on or near the pace Saturday, Dollase expects Stonemason to sit back in the pack and make one big run. "He's got a good mind," he said. "You can do whatever you want with him. He could wind up being a good horse here."

Hawthorne Derby winner still in doubt

Terrel Gore already knows Scooter Roach is the most successful horse he has ever bred, but right now, he can't say just how successful he has been. Scooter Roach may be listed as the winner of this year's Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby - or he may not.

Scooter Roach clearly crossed the finish line several lengths behind Flying Dash in the race, but a post-race urine-blood sample detected illegal drugs in Flying Dash, and state stewards disqualified him from all purse money. That action placed Scooter Roach first in the race, but Flying Dash's trainer, Neil Drysdale, through his attorney, has appealed the stewards' ruling. The matter currently is on hold, and Scooter Roach's legacy remains uncertain.

"Nobody's really said anything to me," said Gore, who also trains Scooter Roach. "I haven't got the money yet. I'm not too concerned about it, but it would be gratifying to raise a graded stakes winner."

Instead, Gore, who began breeding Illinois-breds with his wife just a few years ago, is focused on Saturday's Arlington Classic. There, he hopes to get a better line on how good Scooter Roach really is. The gelding's finish in the Hawthorne Derby seemed okay, but because of a boggy turf course, the race produced a staggeringly slow time.

"I hope he could be better on firm turf," Gore said. "Obviously I have a lot of confidence in him. Saturday, we'll find out a little more. He might be overmatched, but we'll see."

Trujillo's triple puts him close to leader

The apprentice jockey Elvis Trujillo continued his hot streak here, winning three races on Wednesday's card. Trujillo, who somewhat unexpectedly showed up at Arlington during the first week of the meet, now has won 17 races, placing him second in the standings. That's only four winners behind Rene Douglas, who has ridden 38 more horses than Trujillo, whose 35 percent win rate is by far the highest for any regular rider here.

Trujillo is scheduled to lose his five-pound apprentice allowance on July 8.

* A short field is expected for Sunday's feature, an overnight handicap for older horses at seven furlongs. Chindi could be favored in the race - if he runs. Trainer Steve Hobby told racing officials here he would send Chindi to a race at Prairie Meadows if there's not enough pace in Sunday's handicap. A stone closer, Chindi was compromised in a paceless race here earlier this month.