04/05/2003 12:00AM

Invader due a bit of luck


STICKNEY, Ill. - Invader's luck has been so bad that even when she wins she loses. A 3-year-old Illinois-bred filly, Invader has raced 10 times and only once has she failed to fire, but still her record reads 1 win, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds. Invader turned in creditable - if losing - performances in open allowance races throughout last summer at Arlington Park, but she finally broke through at just the right time - or so it seemed. Invader gamely won the $109,000 Showtime Deb at Hawthorne last November, only to be disqualified for causing interference late in the race.

"Yes, she has been tough luck," said trainer Gene Cilio. "Getting taken down in the stake definitely was bad luck."

Invader gets another chance to dodge her dark cloud on Monday at Hawthorne. She faces nine rivals in a first-level statebred allowance race at 1 1/16 miles. Invader should win, but how many times has that been the case?

In Invader's defense, she doesn't fit the mold of a hanger, a horse that seems unwilling to do what it takes to win. For instance, Invader was 6-5 in a statebred allowance here March 16, but ran into Julie's Prize, a horse who may simply be better than her. There's nothing like that in Monday's race, and with any sort of luck at all, Invader will score an overdue victory.

"She's honest, and I think she should get better with age," Cilio said.

Champions Day plans

A win by Invader would be nice, but Cilio has bigger plans for this coming weekend. Saturday is Illinois Champions Day, and there has been no Chicago horseman more active in statebred stakes races in Chicago the last few seasons. Cilio said he plans to start five horses in Saturday's series of stakes, and surely none has a better chance than Book the Devil in the Violet Stakes.

Like Invader, Book the Devil is a 3-year-old filly, but Book the Devil got a much later start to her racing career. She wintered this year at Fair Grounds, and ran in a training race before an explosive career debut here on March 2. Book the Devil beat Illinois-breds by almost 13 lengths while never being asked to run, and returned about three weeks later with an equally dominant win in a first-level allowance race.

"There's no telling how good she is," Cilio said. "I think she'd be an open-company horse any time."

Book the Devil will race six furlongs again this weekend, but Cilio said he has plans to try her at longer distances.

"I think based on her pedigree she'd stretch out, and we'll probably try her a mile at Arlington," he said.