04/11/2002 11:00PM

Ill. Derby winner's sister tops feature


CHICAGO - War Emblem is gone from trainer Bobby Springer's barn now, but his big sister, Pretty Gale, can win Springer and owner Russell Reineman another Sportsman's Park Stakes race Sunday. Pretty Gale faces eight rivals in the $100,000 Lady Hallie Handicap eight days after War Emblem won the Illinois Derby for Reineman and Springer.

Reineman sold a majority of War Emblem to The Thoroughbred Corp. this week, and the colt was transferred to the Kentucky Derby-focused barn of Bob Baffert, leaving a sizable hole in Springer's short string.

But Pretty Gale, right down to her rider and running style, will conjure the image of War Emblem, who was sent straight to the lead last weekend by jockey Larry Sterling and led throughout the Derby. The 4-year-old Pretty Gale, who like War Emblem is a homebred by the Lord at War mare, Sweetest Lady, takes an approach to racing similar to her brother's - run to the lead and go as far as you can.

Until this winter, Pretty Gale had only won on turf, but twice at the recently concluded Fair Grounds meet she scored in races moved from turf to a muddy main track. Her last start, in the Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap, also was switched from turf to dirt, but Pretty Gale was outrun for the early lead by Katy Kat and chased her all the way around an inside-speed biased track.

That's exactly the sort of racing surface Pretty Gale will encounter at Sportsman's. But she has drawn poorly on the far outside, and though Sterling surely will focus on making the front, Pretty Gale might not be quick enough from the gate to cross over and get position in the one and one-sixteenth mile Lady Hallie.

Two potential speed threats lurk to Pretty Gale's inside, Technical Key and Aunty Rose, who drew posts 1 and 3 respectively.

A year ago, Technical Key would have seemed badly overmatched in a race of this caliber, but she improved dramatically at Tampa Bay Downs this winter and could be tough to catch if she makes the lead from the rail.

Aunty Rose is a sister to Generous Rosi, who is Grade 1-placed on dirt, and the 14-1 odds Aunty Rose offered last time out in her U.S. and dirt debut were far more generous than her supporters will see Sunday.

She won that Gulfstream Park allowance race by one and one-half lengths, and steps directly into stakes company for trainer Niall O'Callaghan, who's had great success through the years raiding Chicago stakes with his Churchill Downs-based horses.

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