03/25/2009 11:00PM

Ky. invaders look strong in stakes


Under different circumstances, De Star Xpress and Unspoken Word probably would not be in Chicago on Saturday. Both are Kentucky-based horses who would have fit extremely well in the Fairway Fun Stakes at Turfway Park.

But Turfway announced several weeks ago that the $50,000 Fairway Fun, originally scheduled for Saturday, had to be canceled. That development led Ken McPeek, trainer of De Star Xpress, and Mike Maker, trainer of Unspoken Word, to send their respective charges to Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney, Ill., for the $50,000 Strate Sunshine on Saturday.

The Strate Sunshine, the feature of a nine-race card, drew a field of nine fillies and mares, including the accomplished Christine Janks duo of Illinois-breds Stop a Train and Modjadji. But it is the Kentucky invaders that will be favored in the 1 1/16-mile race.

De Star Xpress, a 4-year-old filly by Sea of Secrets, knocked out her first two allowance conditions last year when trained by Larry Jones. For McPeek, she opened her 2009 campaign with back-to-back thirds in tough Gulfstream Park allowances, followed by a runner-up finish in the March 7 Wintergreen Stakes over the Polytrack surface at Turfway.

Unspoken Word, a 5-year-old Catienus mare, was third as the odds-on favorite in the Wintergreen when coming off back-to-back romps at Turfway. Along with Mongoose Gold, she figures to set the tempo Saturday with her high turn of speed.

Janks said Thursday she is "pretty much expecting to run both" Stop a Train and Modjadji, probably as a prep race for the $100,000 Peach of It Handicap for statebreds April 25. Stop a Train, a winner of $483,782, "probably will be bred after this or the Illinois-bred race," Janks added.

Fringe contenders in the Strate Sunshine include Home's the Best and Kathleens Reel, both returning from failed efforts at Oaklawn Park.

The Strate Sunshine goes as the eighth race. A $28,000 allowance sprint (race 4) for statebred sprinters, headed by the Jim Edgar-owned entry of Swift Pine and Air Dakota, also is on tap Saturday. First post is 1:25 p.m. Central.