11/10/2005 12:00AM

Just 3, Humor at Last might be sprint division's best


STICKNEY, Ill. - The aging tigers in the Illinois-bred sprint division appear to have been declawed. Silver Bid has lost six in a row, looking little like his former self in two recent defeats. Shandy is winless in 2005, and Out of My Way has raced only once in 19 months. At least those guys made it into the Lightning Jet Handicap, one of six $100,000-added Illinois-bred stakes on Saturday at Hawthorne. Take Achance on Me, the Maryland-based sprinter who has won the last two Illinois-bred sprint stakes in Chicago, has been on the shelf since mid-summer.

The Lightning Jet seems ripe for new blood, and there is plenty of it. Run at six furlongs, the race drew a field of 12. Half of them are 4-year-olds, but it is a 3-year-old, Humor at Last, who might be the most talented horse of the lot. Humor at Last won the first two starts of his career here last year, including a sharp victory in the Sun Power Stakes, and after a disappointing first half of 2005, he has found his way again. Humor at Last crushed statebred 3-year-old stakes sprinters three starts ago at Fairmount Park, and he was second Sept. 17 in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint. And though Humor at Last floundered last time out, finishing fifth in the Perryville at Keeneland, trainer Jerry Calvin says not to worry.

"I'd be surprised if he didn't run well Saturday," Calvin said.

Calvin blames Humor at Last's flop on the Keeneland racing surface, which produced rather strange results throughout much of the three-week meet there. "He was just slipping back and forth over there," said Calvin. "I think we had the right horse on the wrong racetrack that particular day."

Just See James last raced five weeks ago, but his stock moved up last Sunday, when Without a Doubt, who beat Just See James by a half-length here Oct. 7, scored a sharp win in an overnight stakes race. With just 11 starts, and only five this year, Just See James is a horse with upside to go with his speed, and he should be well positioned under the veteran rider Randy Meier.

Illini Princess: Jaguar City looks gone

There are two races - one short, one long - for older Illinois-bred fillies and mares on Saturday, and trainer Bobby Springer joked several weeks ago that he might run Jaguar City in both of them. The funny thing is, Jaguar City might have succeeded.

In the end, Springer settled on the route race, the Illini Princess, and Jaguar City is going to be very tough to beat as the lone speed in a short six-horse field.

Jaguar City has turned into one of the better Illinois-bred racemares in recent seasons. She has won 9 of 18 starts and has never been beaten going two turns on dirt, though she was disqualified from a blowout stakes win here in the spring.

"I knew she was a decent filly, but until I stretched her out, I didn't know quite how good she was," Springer said.

Jaguar City faced open allowance horses at Keeneland in her last start and won by more than 11 lengths. With post 3 and the prospect of an easy lead, it seems unlikely that anyone is going to run her down.

Meadow Bride has the best chance. A 3-year-old, Meadow Bride has shown flashes of real talent in the past and won an open fourth-level allowance here Oct. 10 by more than five lengths.

Showtime Deb: 'Fantasy' fast filly

In the Showtime Deb for 2-year-old fillies, Rich Fantasy makes her first start since winning an Oct. 21 maiden race here by 20 1/2 lengths.

Rich Fantasy had been beaten nearly as much when she made her career debut in an open maiden race July 3 at Keeneland, but it was a completely different filly that showed up at Hawthorne.

"She'd been showing us that she was a nice filly," said trainer Ronny Werner. "First time out she'd been battling some shins. We got those good, and here she came."

Rich Fantasy beat opponents of suspect quality, and she undoubtedly faces a tougher task Saturday, but Werner said she "had come out of her race really good, and she worked good the other day."

There are eight others in the six-furlong Showtime Deb. Perhaps the best of them are Lampoon and Lovely Love.

Sun Power: Edge to a young pro

The 2-year-old colt Last Gran Standing came up the rail like a seasoned professional to win an open allowance race here Oct. 26, and a similar performance will probably win him the six-furlong Sun Power Stakes. Last Gran Standing is one of only two two-time winners in the Sun Power, and he has the right off-the-pace running style in a race that seems packed with early speed.

Powerless: Bluesbdancing the one

Bluesbdancing appears to be a standout in the six-furlong Powerless for older female sprinters. A winner in 5 of her 7 starts, Bluesbdancing has won 2 of 3 this year and has yet to face statebred-restricted company.