06/14/2002 12:00AM

Jake the Flake: World's easiest training job


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Things aren't that complicated when it comes to racing Jake the Flake.

"You put him on a van, he gets where he's going, and he runs his heart out," said trainer Hal Wiggins.

That is the plan this weekend when Jack Murphy and Pam Slaughter's Jake the Flake invades Arlington from Wiggins's base at Churchill Downs.

"My son and daughter are up there now," Wiggins said. "They'll be waiting for him."

So will a field of seven horses that will challenge Jake the Flake in Arlington's featured eighth race Sunday, a high-end allowance race run at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The race is subject to being moved to the main track, as happened here Friday when intermittent heavy rain hit the area.

Jake the Flake has been here before. He came to town last July and in a span of 13 days won a pair of grass races on this course. "We know he likes it up there, but the way this horse is, I think he'd like it anywhere," said Wiggins. "He's just like an old Quarter Horse. He never gives anyone a lick of trouble."

Jake the Flake is a 6-year-old now, but with a nose win and a neck loss in two recent Churchill turf races, he still is going strong. Wiggins attributes that to the gentle approach Murphy and Slaughter take to campaigning their horse.

"They turn him out for two or three months every winter, and I really think that when he comes back, he's always good and fresh," Wiggins said. "He comes to us down in New Orleans and we get him ready for his season."

Sunday, he must handle an interesting field that includes recent Hawthorne stakes winner Four on the Floor, and Roxinho, a Brazilian champion last season.

Marquez's Hong Kong experience was worthwhile Carlos Marquez Jr. was just kidding around with Alex Batilla, a fellow jockey who had just come back from a stint in Hong Kong. Maybe Marquez would take Batilla's place in the Far East.

The next thing he knew, he had.

Batilla told Marquez that racing in Hong Kong was no joke. "He got me an application, and a week later I heard I'd been invited," Marquez said.

Marquez spent winter in Hong Kong, but now has landed at Arlington, where he has won four races through seven race days, leaving him tied for fifth in the jockey standings. Before he went to Hong Kong, Marquez had been riding regularly on the East Coast, but he has spent his share of time in Chicago, where his father, the former rider Carlos Marquez Sr., makes his home.

"I loved Hong Kong," Marquez said. "The racing's big, and people treat you good. Some owners and trainers, they showed me everything. I did well there."

There were two racing days and 22 races a week in Hong Kong, Marquez said. He usually rode the maximum allowable races in a week, 18, and with minimum purses of about $50,000, the money was good.

Still, by the time his contract was up, Marquez said he was ready to leave. He's back in more familiar territory and has been getting on live horses.

"I'm working hard, and things are going well right now," Marquez said.

for entries.

Subscribers: to purchase Past Performances.

Non-subscribers: Click here to purchase Past Performances.