11/03/2008 12:00AM

Janks wins three stakes, but that's not all


STICKNEY, Ill. - It's almost hard to know where to begin. Let's just say that the trainer Christine Janks had a remarkable Saturday at Hawthorne.

The most obvious fact is that Janks-trained horses won three of the six Illinois-bred stakes races, a rare feat on its own. But in the last two of those triumphs, Janks actually sent out the exacta, with Nicks beating Pretty Jenny in the Powerless Handicap, and Stop a Train holding off Modjadji in the Illini Princess, the afternoon's final stakes.

"My assistant Robert Dobbs, he's a huge factor in all of this," Janks said early Saturday evening, after the smoke had cleared on what she conceded was her best-ever single day during a long training career. "We were each saddling one of the horses in the races where we had two, and he saddled the first two winners. I picked Stop a Train in the last one, just hoping I was right."

High Expectations started the stakes sequence for Janks with a win in the Lightning Jet Handicap, which gave Janks a sweep of all the Illinois-bred sprint stakes the last two calendar years. Since April 2007, High Expectations has won the Chicagoland Handicap twice, the White Oak Handicap once, and now the Lightning Jet. The Janks-trained Mighty Rule - who ran poorly Saturday - also won the White Oak and the Lightning Jet during the two-year period.

High Expectations came back around during the last six weeks after a tough summer at Arlington, where he started going sour on the all-weather surface and lost his form.

"Last year, he was just okay on it, but this year, being a year older, it just jarred him up so much in the joints," said Janks. "He's a horse that hits the ground really hard."

As a gelding, 6-year-old High Expectations will be back for more racing, and could even run in an allowance race here later this meet, Janks said. And even Janks's trio of 6-year-old mares - Pretty Jenny, High Expectations, and Modjadji - could race again before being bred during the 2009 breeding season. As for 4-year-old Nicks, she won her stakes debut, a good sign going forward for the Janks team.

"That was really great, because there's going to be a big hole left in my stable next year," said Janks.

Hazelton high on Devil's Halo

Richard Hazelton has been training horses with success for more than half a century now. And that is why a listener's ears prick up to hear Hazelton talk about his 2-year-old colt Devil's Halo, who is 2 for 2 now after a two-length win over the talented My Dominick James on Saturday in the Sun Power Stakes.

"I really think he's a good colt," Hazelton said of the Asiel Stable homebred. "I've never had one like him. He's just so nice and kind and doesn't do anything wrong, and he's been that way all the time. I was going to stand him in the gate the day before he ran, and I finally said, 'The hell with it, why am I going to go and do that?'"

Indeed, Devil's Halo popped out of the gate on top Saturday, but this is no speed-crazy sprinter. Jockey Carlos Silva slowed Devil's Halo down to a 24-second second quarter-mile, and then Devil's Halo finished with a final quarter in 23.52 seconds. That looked like a horse who will race two turns, and Devil's Halo will get the chance Dec. 13 in the Jim Edgar Futurity.

"I don't think I'll take him anywhere just yet," Hazelton said. "We'll just see how he runs in that and go from there."

Unbridled Vicar looks good Wednesday

Unbridled Vicar finished a head behind Denis of Cork and just three lengths back of Pyro in route races during the Fair Grounds meet last winter, and given those performances, he ought to finish in front of everyone in the featured seventh race Wednesday at Hawthorne.

And if not Unbridled Vicar, than perhaps his Jim Tafel-owned entry-mate Rags. Both horses are 1 for 1 going long on the Hawthorne dirt track, and both are closers. With several front-runners entered in this second-level allowance, trainer Greg Geier might have the others in this race over a barrel.

Unbridled Vicar's most recent dirt start was terrible, a 20-length loss in the Northern Dancer at Churchill June 14, and though he rebounded with better tries in three Arlington races, he never showed the same spark on the all-weather surface that he has on dirt. It's been two months since Unbridled Vicar last raced, but Geier has gotten three Hawthorne works into the gelding, and he looks ready.

The front-runners include It's Never to Late, who won against a mild track bias here opening week, then failed to show his best on grass Oct. 22.