10/16/2007 11:00PM

Indian Hawke low risk, high reward

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - Handicappers may have viewed Indian Hawke as a suspicious drop-down when he showed up in a $30,000 claiming race at Saratoga after not racing in four months. But there were four parties interested in taking a $30,000 gamble and each put in a claim for the 4-year-old gelding.

An ownership group led by Michael Dubb and Sanford Goldfarb won a four-way shake for Indian Hawke, who just two months later could be a major factor in Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic at Belmont Park. The Empire Classic, run at 1 1/8 miles, is the centerpiece of New York Showcase Day, a card devoted entirely to New York-breds which features seven stakes totaling $1 million.

"Thirty-thousand dollars - as much as I respect $20 - is not a lot of money,'' said Tony Dutrow, who was given Indian Hawke to train. "We took a crack at it. What's the downside here?''

The way Indian Hawke decimated a starter allowance field here on Oct. 3, there was no downside. With Cornelio Velasquez in the irons, Indian Hawke led from gate to wire and won by 12 3/4 lengths while covering one mile in 1:34.83 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 105. Indian Hawke earned $31,200 for that win, already earning back his purchase price.

"I thought it was really kind of a breathtaking race,'' Dutrow said. "He seems to have come out of it really good, he sure acts good. It's right back at Belmont Park with the same jock for big money. I'm well aware he's coming back off short rest, but maybe it's worth a try.''

Dutrow said he found no serious problems with Indian Hawke after claiming him from trainer George Weaver and owner Donald Flanagan at Saratoga.

"You could see some physical reasons why the horse was away, but I think the previous trainer had the horse in good shape,'' Dutrow said. "I don't think there was anything that we fixed for [that] race.''

Indian Hawke is one of 10 horses being pointed to the Empire Classic. The favorite will be Naughty New Yorker, who has finished sixth in this race the last two years, but comes off back-to-back victories. Others expected to run include Shuffling Maddnes, Who What Win, Building New Era, Run Red Run, Dr. V's Magic, French Transition, Lord Langfuhr, and Storm Boot Gold.

Big Truck heads Sleepy Hollow

The biggest attraction on Showcase Day may be Big Truck, the Barclay Tagg-trained 2-year-old colt who seeks his third consecutive victory in Saturday's $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes.

Big Truck, a son of Hook and Ladder, is 2 for 2 with a 6 1/2-length maiden win on Aug. 23 and a two-length victory in the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 23. If Big Truck wins the Sleepy Hollow he will have followed the same path as Funny Cide did in 2002. Funny Cide went on to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

In 2002, Funny Cide ended his juvenile campaign in the Sleepy Hollow. Tagg is considering running Big Truck in the $200,000 Remsen on Nov. 24 at Aqueduct.

"If he does this real easy and comes out of it real good there's always the Remsen,'' Tagg said. "Might be one less prep we have to do for the Derby.''

A small field is expected for the Sleepy Hollow, including Another Gulch, Be Bullish, Giant Moon, and possibly Fort Drum.

Ferocious Fires returns in Hudson

Dutrow will take another gamble when he brings the undefeated Ferocious Fires back to the races off an 11-month layoff in Saturday's $125,000 Hudson Handicap at six furlongs.

Ferocious Fires, a son of Lite the Fuse, has won all five of his starts, but has not run since taking the restricted Mr. Leader Stakes at Aqueduct last Nov. 11. Dutrow said the horse sustained a torn suspensory in his right hind ankle last year and was given time to recover from it.

"He's probably only 90 percent fitness-wise,'' Dutrow said. "There's no easy race to bring a horse like him back in. Where am I going to find slow horses that he's eligible to run with? It's not going to happen.''

Dutrow also trains the talented Premium Wine, who stepped out of New York-bred company for the first time and won the $250,000 Gallant Bob Stakes at Philadelphia Park. Dutrow said Premium Wine will be pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 Sport Page Handicap at Aqueduct on Oct. 27 instead of the Hudson.

Ferocious Fires is one of seven horses being pointed to the Hudson. Others include defending Hudson winner Gold and Roses, Introspect, Stormin Normandy, I'm a Numbers Guy, Monster Drive, and Posted.

Bush to showcase statebred talent

Trainer Tom Bush said he plans to have runners in six of the seven traditional New York Showcase Day Stakes, led by a powerful entry of Gold and Roses and Posted in the Hudson.

Gold and Roses is just 1 for 4 this year with a 9 1/4-length victory in the John A. Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga. He finished fourth as the 3-5 favorite in the General Douglas MacArthur and fourth in the James Moseley Handicap against open company at Suffolk Downs on Sept. 22.

Posted looked like a budding star with front-running, open-length victories in a maiden race at Belmont in July and a first-level allowance score at Saratoga. He finished fourth in a second-level allowance race as the 2-5 favorite in his last start.

"We felt like maybe we held him too much the last time we rode him, and that was my instructions,'' Bush said. "That might have been a mistake.''

Bush's other New York Showcase runners include Run Red Run (Classic), Miss Blarney Stone (Ticonderoga), Banrock (Mohawk), Another Gulch (Sleepy Hollow), and Honky Tonk Trick (Maid of the Mist).

"I hope I don't come away completely empty,'' Bush said. "My best chance has got to be in the [Hudson].''

Ice Cool Kitty tops Iroquois

The only race Bush won't have a runner in is the $125,000 Iroquois Handicap for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

Favoritism in that race figures to go to Ice Cool Kitty, who won the Floral Park Handicap on Sept. 27 but then came back three days later in the Grade 1 Beldame on Sept. 30 and finished last after setting the pace.

She figures to get a challenge from Light Tactic, who has won each of her first two starts impressively for trainer Richard Schosberg. Others looking at the Iroquois are Karakorum Starlet, Precise Lady, Scatkey, Stolen Star, Mama Theresa, Artistic Express, and Sunset Cocktail.