06/19/2008 12:00AM

Last Gran Standing tops on recent form


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - If Last Gran Standing can merely hold his form, he should win the $100,000 White Oak Handicap, part of the Prairie State Festival of Illinois-bred stakes racing on Saturday at Arlington Park.

A lightly raced 5-year-old Distorted Humor gelding owned by Russell Reineman Stable Inc., Last Gran Standing has been a solid horse throughout his career, winning half his 16 starts, but he has never been quite as good as this. Second at Keeneland in his 2008 debut, Last Gran Standing has won consecutive races this meet over the Arlington Polytrack, making a flashy move in both victories.

"It's hard to win three in a row with any horse," said trainer Brian Williamson. "But this horse, he seems to have come back really sharp this year, and he came out of that last race good.

Jockey Rene Douglas, Williamson said, "has really been able to get him to relax."

Last Gran Standing faces the usual suspects in the Illinois-bred sprint division: Mighty Rule, High Expectations, and Caruso have squared off many times in the last couple of years. But Last Gran Standing's recent sharpness, and his ability to make his own trip, may give him an advantage.

High Expectations, who has won the White Oak two years in a row, needs help in the form of early pace. A dead closer, High Expectations has 2 wins this season and 12 in 34 starts, and he has finished worse than third only seven times in his career.

"With him, it just depends on how the race shapes up," said trainer Christine Janks.

Janks also is sending out Mighty Rule, who was second to High Expectations two races ago, and second to Last Gran Standing here June 1. Mighty Rule drew the rail, and tends to race close to the pace.

The race shape in the White Oak depends in great part on what trainer Tom Amoss does with Classic R. J., a confirmed front-runner who was cross-entered in the one-mile Springfield for 3-year-olds.

Lincoln Heritage a tough crowd

Royal Leah won the Lincoln Heritage Handicap for female grass horses at 7-2 last year, but the fact she is just 6-1 on Arlington's morning-line in this year's Lincoln Heritage demonstrates the race's depth.

Fourteen were entered in the Lincoln Heritage, at 1o1/16 miles on Arlington's sweeping turf course. Royal Leah was seventh in an overnight turf stakes here May 17, but that was her first start after a long layoff, and she figures to improve Saturday.

But so do other horses in the race, especially Love Handles, who had a disastrous trip in her 2008 debut, a second-level turf allowance here May 18. Love Handles finished seventh as the favorite in that start, but was sandwiched by rivals in the stretch run.

"She was lucky she didn't get dropped," said Williamson, trainer of Love Handles. "She came back good, and if she goes back to her form from last year, she should be tough in there."

Love Handles won the Illinois Owners Stakes over the Hawthorne grass last year, and finished her season with a fifth in the Grade 3 Cardinal at Churchill Downs.

The horse to beat in the Lincoln Heritage is Lady Lionel, who was fourth in the race last year, but a good closing third last month in her 2008 debut.

Secret Kin's best takes Isaac Murphy

If Secret Kin can run back to her April 26 victory in an Illinois-bred dirt stakes at Hawthorne, she can win the Isaac Murphy, which is for older female sprinters.

Secret Kin didn't race from July until March, but after a third-place finish in her comeback start, she won the Governor's Lady at Hawthorne by more than four lengths. Trainer Chris Block passed an Arlington overnight stakes prep for the Isaac Murphy in favor of a Churchill allowance on May 23, when Secret Kin finished a solid second.

"The race here didn't seem like the way to set her up for this," Block said. "She ran very well there, and I think she's ready to go."

Magnetic Miss won the race that Secret Kin passed by six lengths, but drew the rail Saturday and must avoid a speed duel with Twin Buttes. The Janks-trained pair of Modjadji and Pretty Jenny also figure, though Janks cautioned that Pretty Jenny is not fond of Polytrack.

Amazing Results looks adaptable

The Block barn could well have a big day Saturday, with Amazing Results a potentially key player in the lineup. A seriously troubled eighth last out in the Arlington Classic, Amazing Results will be making only his second one-turn start in the one-mile Springfield, but won a turf sprint at Fair Grounds over the winter, and may be able to adapt to the new conditions.

"He seems to step it up in any situation," Block said.

The 12-horse Springfield is flush with contenders. Mr. Mischief finished a good third in the Arlington Classic, and should handle the one-turn mile, while Classic R. J., a Hawthorne sprint stakes winner last out, seems questionable at the longer distance.

* The Purple Violet, for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on Polytrack, drew a field of eight, headed by Apple Martini, Sun for Fun, and Lune Rouge.