10/29/2008 11:00PM

Last hurrah for three sturdy mares


STICKNEY, Ill. - For the last four years, you could pencil in the names Pretty Jenny, Stop a Train, and Modjadji whenever an Illinois-bred stakes day came up at Hawthorne. But the long era of the three 6-year-old mares is coming to a close, with all scheduled to be retired to become broodmares in 2009.

Their last Hawthorne stakes hurrah comes Saturday, when Pretty Jenny will try to win the Powerless Handicap for the second time, and Stop a Train the Illini Princess for the second time. Modjadji, second in the Powerless last year, tries the Illini Princess this time. Four more statebred-restricted stakes also are part of Saturday's 10-race card.

Trainer Christine Janks is the driving force behind the outgoing trio of mares. Janks has a major ownership stake in many of the horses she trains, and she is the rare contemporary horsewoman who breeds stock to race.

"We thought of selling Stop a Train, since I have her mother and her sisters and her aunts, but before we got a deal done the market fell out, so that's on hold," Janks said. "Pretty Jenny's mother is dead, and Modjadji's mother is dead; those are bloodlines I'd like to carry on."

Janks and her crew have done expert work keeping these horses together. Pretty Jenny will be making her 31st start, Modjadji her 33rd, and Stop a Train her 30th.

"I think if they're raced too hard and too long, it does compromise the foals they produce, but none of them have been raced hard, so I don't think racing them at 6 has been a detriment," said Janks.

Pretty Jenny was one of eight entered in the six-furlong Powerless, a race she easily won in 2006, and in which she finished third last year. With 1 win in 6 starts in 2008, Pretty Jenny has not had her most productive year, but she figures to appreciate the return to Hawthorne dirt from Arlington Polytrack, and Pretty Jenny has been working well. She had two swift five-furlong breezes earlier in October, and last weekend drilled six furlongs in 1:10.40.

"She actually was well within herself," Janks said. "How do you do that when you go in 1:10?"

Secret Kin, Magnetic Miss, and Lune Rouge also look like contenders in a fairly deep edition of the Powerless.

Third in the two-turn Illini Princess last year, Stop a Train is the horse to beat again Saturday. The 3-year-old Apple Martini could prove competitive here.

High Expectations liable to improve

Janks is bullish on another 6-year-old, High Expectations, who she thinks will bounce back from a tough summer in the six-furlong Lightning Jet.

High Expectations, a 12-time winner, took the Chicagoland Handicap here in the spring, but finished third, fourth, and fifth in three Arlington starts, looking nothing like his usual self. Janks said she thinks he might outdo her other entrant, Mighty Rule, who drew somewhat poorly on the rail.

"High Expectations is doing great again, so I'm going to guess it's going to be his turn," Janks said. "I'm hoping all of his little problems are going to be gone."

Mighty Rule won this race in impressive fashion last year, and also can improve on his recent form, which is all turf and synthetic.

The 3-year-old Classic R.J. has a decent chance to wire this field, and if High Expectations will be closing, so should Fort Prado, who has more than $1 million in earnings. He makes his first dirt start in more than two years, and has gone 0 for 10 in 2008, but nevertheless should be highly competitive moving from open stakes to restricted competition.

Stonehouse fits well in Bucks Boy

Stonehouse has failed to win in five Hawthorne starts, but that is not because he does not care for the local main track.

"He handles this track fine," trainer Spanky Broussard said this week.

If Stonehouse manages to avoid a potentially negative pace scenario, he will have a good chance to win the Bucks Boy, the two-turn older-horse route race on the program. Stonehouse set the pace and missed by a neck here in the Milwaukee Avenue Cap last spring, but the horse who beat him there, Instill, is not among his seven rivals Saturday. In fact, a typical Stonehouse showing simply looks better than the average race by any of his rivals.

Three threats in Sun Power

Among the 2-year-olds, the race for males, the Sun Power, looks better than the one for fillies, the Showtime Deb. The Sun Power looks like a battle among the accomplished My Dominick James and flashy Hawthorne maiden winners Capt. Bullet Bob and Devil's Halo.

Beaten in an allowance race here at odds of 1-5, Mamma Lina will try to make amends in the Showtime Deb.