09/21/2004 11:00PM

Kirby well-stocked for next meet


CHICAGO - What can Frank Kirby do for an encore after his surprising win in the race to be Arlington's leading trainer? Maybe some good at the Hawthorne meet, which begins Friday and runs into the dead of Chicago winter, with closing day slated for Jan. 2.

Kirby edged Steve Asmussen, 32-31, to take the Arlington title, and he did it by leading almost from start to finish. Kirby isn't a huge talker, especially concerning his own achievements, but he said the Arlington title, his first since 1974, gave him satisfaction.

"I was happy. That's quite a feat, winning 30 years apart," Kirby said.

Kirby won at a steady pace, and he benefited from having about 44 horses at the track and another 40 on his farm, which sits about 35 minutes away from Arlington and about an hour from Hawthorne. Having so much stock allows Kirby to rotate in fresh horses, and though he figures he'll "probably be in transition" at Hawthorne, Kirby still has live stock to run.

"We've got some young horses, some 2-year-olds that will be ready to go," he said.

Cloudy's Knight, an impressive winner of the John Henry Stakes on Arlington's closing weekend, is probably going to the Robert F. Carey Memorial, a Grade 3, one-mile grass race at Hawthorne, Kirby said. Kirby said he plans to ship three horses to all-turf Kentucky Downs for Saturday stakes races: Sharbayan is running in the Kentucky Cup Turf, Beautiful Bets is going in the Kentucky Cup Ladies, and Stormy Impact runs in the Kentucky Cup Mile.

Plans unclear for two winners

The winners of Arlington's 2-year-old stakes last Sunday emerged from their wins in good physical condition, but there are no set plans for either Three Hour Nap, who won the Grade 3 Futurity, or Culinary, who won the Grade 3 Lassie.

The trainers of both horses, Hugh Robertson and Mike Stidham, have converged at Keeneland this week for the ongoing September yearling sale there. Stidham will ship much of his stock, including Culinary, from Arlington to Keeneland on Sept. 29, and Culinary could race there Oct. 8 in the Alcibiades Stakes, a possible prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Culinary got an 89 Beyer Speed Figure for her effortless win in the Lassie, her only start besides a blowout maiden victory in August. Both of Culinary's races have been in one-turn miles, and she looks like a horse meant for true route racing.

"I don't think two turns will be an issue at all with her," Stidham said.

Robertson will take Three Hour Nap with him to Hawthorne, but has not yet come up with a plan for the colt and said he won't do so before he returns to Chicago this weekend.

"He seems fine, but I'm leaning toward giving him some time off," said Robertson, also a half-owner of Three Hour Nap, who has started his career 3 for 3.

Agent's plans up in air

Dennis Cooper, the agent for four-time Arlington leading rider Rene Douglas, said he has no plans to represent another jockey in the wake of Douglas's departure for California. In fact, Cooper said he was still searching for mounts Douglas might ride in stakes races at the Hawthorne meet.

Douglas owns a home in Southern California - though his family is based in south Florida - and Douglas is going to ride at the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita. Cooper said he declined an invitation to represent Douglas in California and didn't know Douglas's plans.

"He might plan on staying there the rest of his life as far as I know," Cooper said. "If I had to guess, I'd say we'd meet back up in Florida, but I have no way of knowing."

* The $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup on Oct. 2 is expected to attract Perfect Drift from his Kentucky base. Hawthorne is hoping to lure a big name from the East Coast, say Funny Cide or Evening Attire, but faces competition from the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, also Oct. 2, and the Meadowlands Cup Oct. 8.