04/23/2008 11:00PM

Janks's older horses show no signs of slowing


STICKNEY, Ill. - There may be an inordinate focus on 2-year-olds within American racing, but that doesn't hold in the barn of trainer Christine Janks. Yes, Janks does start her share of 2-year-olds, but the fact that one of her horses gets going at an early age doesn't preclude the animal from sticking around for several years.

Janks entered five horses on Saturday at Hawthorne and will be represented in three of the six stakes for Illinois-breds on the card. All of the horses have been around the block. The spring chicken is Mighty Rule, who is 5. The other four are 6-year-olds, a quartet that includes Pretty Jenny and Modjadji in the $100,000 Governor's Lady Handicap; High Expectations, who joins Mighty Rule in the $100,000 Chicagoland Handicap; and Stop a Train, who may be favored in the $100,000 Peach of It Handicap.

Janks's sprinters have proven especially durable. Pretty Jenny earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 93 when she won an overnight stakes race last Nov. 23 at Churchill in her final start of 2007. With a record of 11 for 24 and earnings approaching $500,000, Pretty Jenny has followed through on the sharp form she first showed here four seasons ago.

Modjadji has earned barely half as much as Pretty Jenny, but has finished first or second in 14 of her 26 races, and - like her stablemate - showed no sign of advancing age when she went to the sidelines for her annual winter break in December.

"I don't have any reason to believe they should be any slower than they were last year," Janks said Thursday, reached at her Florida farm.

Janks spends most of the winter and spring in Florida, making periodic trips to Hawthorne. She was here to watch both Pretty Jenny and Modjadji turn in separate workouts on April 17, and came away thinking Modjadji might be her sharper entrant in Saturday's six-furlong Governor's Lady.

"Modjadji just seemed a little stronger to me when they worked," Janks said. "They're both doing really well, but if I had to give an edge to one, I'd say Modjadji. Jenny, it usually takes her a race or two to hit her stride."

Among the others, 10-time winner Bluesbdancing has won similar races before, while Secret Kin should improve off a third-place finish March 22, her first start since July. Secret Kin has won 3 of her 6 Hawthorne starts, and as a lightly raced 4-year-old still may have upside.

Mighty Rule ended 2007 as the leading Illinois-bred sprinter, but has finished third - with excuses - in his two starts this meet. Still, Janks believes that "he's a better horse this year than last year," and Mighty Rule is eligible to rebound in the six-furlong Chicagoland. Other contenders include stretch-running High Expectations, who also has won almost a half-million dollars in prize money, and Caruso.

Caruso, trained by Richard Hazelton, hasn't raced since September, and was not going all that well this winter, but Hazelton has gotten a long string of recent workouts into Caruso, who has won 3 of 4 at Hawthorne.

"He should be pretty sharp in there," Hazelton said.

Stonehouse tops Milwaukee Avenue

If form holds, Stonehouse will be difficult to beat in the $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue, a route race for older horses. But one thing that has not held is the front-end bias that existed last week at Hawthorne. All weekend and through Monday, late-runners had trouble denting the top placings, but deep closers won the first two races here Thursday, and Stonehouse's pace edge in the Milwaukee Avenue may not mean what it would've a week ago.

Stonehouse, a 4-year-old Chester House colt trained by Spanky Broussard, has by far the best recent form in the seven-horse Milwaukee Avenue. In his most recent start, March 7 at Fair Grounds, he finished second by a half-length to the talented Larry Jones-trained colt Honest Man. The race before that, Stonehouse set a fast pace before fading in the stretch, but he was in against true stakes horses like Grasshopper, Silver Lord, and Magna Graduate in that Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds.

"He's run with some nice horses, this horse has," Broussard said.

Navy Wings, another Chester House 4-year-old, faced open company when he made his 2008 debut earlier this month at Oaklawn Park, and has run well before at Hawthorne. Creative Force hasn't started since July 7 and had a tough 2007, but looks at least a little like a sleeper.

Stop a Train, Copper State rematch

Stop a Train, one of the Janks 6-year-olds, won her 2008 debut in a Hawthorne allowance race, and is the most accomplished horse in the Peach of It, the dirt route stakes for females. But Stop a Train may get all she can handle from Copper State, who was third behind Stop a Train in that March 31 allowance race.

Copper State is only 4 and she has gotten limited chances to race around two turns on dirt, which is what she does best. The recent allowance race marked Copper State's first race since November.

"She should improve a whole bunch," Hazelton said. "She's a real good mare, I think."

Land of Lincoln wide open

The $100,000 Land of Lincoln for 3-year-olds came up a surprisingly engaging race, and competition runs perhaps five or six horses deep in an eight-horse field.

Denos Keys, an easy winner of his first two starts, drew poorly on the rail and may be under pace pressure throughout the race. Michael's Dreamin' should be on his tail from the start, with Dakota Rebel not far behind the early leaders, and River Bear waiting to make a run in the stretch.

* The $100,000 Lady Hallie for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs could come down to Missy Biscuit and Big Lou, with Carts Italian Rose and Silver Stairs secondary contenders.