05/15/2003 11:00PM

It's Wiggins vs. Shandy at Arlington


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The Hi Oak Silver on Sunday at Arlington is just a $40,000 overnight handicap, but the race has lured two of the fastest Illinois-bred 3-year-olds in training, Wiggins and Shandy.

The supporting cast is fine, too. Link to Ordway has won two straight races by a combined nine lengths. My Beau Mister Joe and Roy's Trigger both have won $100,000 stakes races, while Pico D J Alex was second in one of them.

But the race still should belong to either Shandy or Wiggins, with an edge going to the latter. Wiggins has won three of five starts, and finished a couple lengths in front of Shandy when the two colts ran in the Spectacular Bid Handicap here last season.

This year, Wiggins is just getting started.

A partnership purchased Wiggins privately after he narrowly missed winning the Spectacular Bid, an open race, and after galloping to a minor stakes win at Fairmount Park, Wiggins spent much of the winter resting. Trainer Tony Granitz didn't pushed Wiggins early this spring and decided to forego the $100,000 Land of Lincoln at Hawthorne for a second-level allowance race there April 14.

So far, the strategy looks good. Wiggins got an easy 8 1/4-length win that should move him forward into this race, with the $100,000 Springfield Stakes next month as his immediate major goal.

"He did everything that was expected of him last time," Granitz said. "Sunday's another step. Last time he went 6 1/2 furlongs, this is seven-eights, and we're pointing for a mile in June. The owners have been real patient, letting me choose the spots."

Wiggins will be ridden by Eddie Razo Jr.

Shandy didn't fire in the Land of Lincoln, finishing sixth, but in a May 6 Hawthorne allowance he easily beat the Land of Lincoln winner, My Beau Mister Joe, in the sharpest performance of his career.

Good news for Sue's Good News

The timing was terrible, but Sue's Good News is okay.

Sue's Good News, undefeated in three starts, was scheduled to ship to Churchill and run in the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes this weekend, but she came down with a minor illness this week and had to stay home.

"She got a little cough, nothing major, but just the wrong time," said trainer Steve Hobby. "It's too bad, because the race didn't seem to be coming up that tough."

Hobby said he jogged Sue's Good News on Thursday. "I didn't do much with her," he said. "She's still leaving a little feed, but she never did get a fever."

Hobby isn't certain where Sue's Good News will race next. She stretched out to a mile to win her last start, but could land in a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies here at the end of May.

Mystery Giver's next coming in June

Mystery Giver will make his next start either in the June 15 Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup or the June 21 Cardinal Handicap here, trainer Chris Block said. Both races are on turf, but the Sea O'Erin is an open stakes while the Cardinal is restricted to Illinois-breds.

Mystery Giver finished fifth last month in the Grade 3 Elkhorn at Keeneland, but the race was a failed experiment more than a failure. Block wanted to try Mystery Giver at 1 1/2 miles, and instructed his rider to take Mystery Giver to the back of the pack and make one big run. Mystery Giver ran, but didn't close fast enough. So for now, Mystery Giver is returning to middle distances.

"He's doing just fine," Block said. "He ran a little temperature three days in a row, but he never stopped eating. He's back on course now."