10/01/2006 11:00PM

It's No Joke possible for BC Classic


CHICAGO - Since It's No Joke has won 3 of 4 starts at Churchill Downs, site of this year's Breeders' Cup, and since on Saturday at Hawthorne Race Course he won a race over 1 1/4 miles - the distance of the Breeders' Cup Classic - It's No Joke's mild upset of the Hawthorne Gold Cup may not mark the culmination of his fall campaign. Owner Stan Fulton and trainer Becky Maker could well proceed to the BC Classic on Nov. 4 at Churchill, Maker said Monday morning.

It's No Joke hadn't yet returned to training as of Monday, but all indications were that he had exited his one-length win over favored A.P. Arrow in good physical condition. "He looked great this morning, ate all his feed," said Maker, a one-time assistant to trainer Wayne Lukas.

"As far as Breeders' Cup plans go, from my past experiences a lot can change going up to the Breeders' Cup," Maker said. "You'll get some injuries, some horses might not make it there. Having the healthiest horse at the important time is part of the battle. We're going to keep him healthy, and if it looks like it's a good opportunity, we'll consider it. We know he does like the track there."

It's No Joke earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 - light by Classic standards - for running 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.89 on Saturday. The final time wasn't very fast, and It's No Joke ran his final quarter-mile in more than 26 seconds, but give the horse credit. While early-afternoon rain slightly quickened the Hawthorne track Saturday, the surface had produced exceedingly slow times for several days in a row. Moreover, It's No Joke raced close to the early pace in the Gold Cup, and the race's six-furlong fraction of 1:11.63 was faster than any six-furlong race run last week locally.

Better for It's No Joke, a 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor, to stay close to a quick pace than to get buried behind horses, according to Maker.

"He is kind of vulnerable horse, because he doesn't like to have things happen to him early in the race," she said. "Once you get him running, you can't take anything away from him or you can't get him going again. He's much easier to train and ride in the morning than in the afternoon."

Jockey Eddie Razo had breezed It's No Joke but never had ridden him before Saturday. Razo must be a quick study, and It's No Joke rewarded him with the biggest win of his career.

No Tolerance earns lengthy vacation

While It's No Joke may go on to bigger things, No Tolerance's narrow win in the Carey Memorial on Saturday might have been his farewell for the season.

"My basic instinct is to probably stop on No Tolerance until Oaklawn Park," said trainer Mike Campbell. "He's raced for a long time straight now. He's perfectly sound, and he just ran by far the best race of his life. It may be time to start thinking about next year for him."

No Tolerance made a clear early lead under Campbell's son, jockey Jesse Campbell, and narrowly held off Rapid Proof in the Grade 3, $150,000 Carey.

Campbell, however, said that Kid Grindstone, a distant third in the Hawthorne Gold Cup, could race later this month in the Fayette Handicap at Keeneland.

Fort Prado, a close fourth after a wide trip in the Carey, might start next in the River Cities at the Churchill Downs meet, trainer Chris Block said.

Tomillo breaks arm in fall

Tom Tomillo, Hawthorne's leading trainer, suffered another medical setback last week when he fell and broke his left arm. Tomillo said he was getting into a car when he lost his balance and slipped backward. He was to have surgery to set the bone Monday, and was in good spirits less than an hour before the procedure.

Tomillo has battled various physical problems the last several years, and recently was outfitted with a prosthesis after having a leg amputated. Still, Tomillo has remained a regular presence in Chicago racing, and is in the midst of another strong Hawthorne meet.

Ice Storm Coming one to fear

One of the first 2-year-old allowance races of the Chicago season serves as the Wednesday feature: Race 7, at six furlongs and open to $50,000 claimers as well as entry-level allowance horses, drew a field of seven 2-year-old fillies.

The best of them might be Ice Storm Coming, who easily won a maiden race at Arlington before finishing third in the Top Flight Stakes. The seven-furlong Top Flight was a prep for the one-mile Arlington-Washington Lassie, but Ice Storm Coming at this point might be better suited to shorter distances. She faded late after contesting the early pace in the Top Flight, but can win on Wednesday by running back to her June 30 maiden win.