03/28/2002 1:00AM

Layoff shouldn't hurt Tap Your Feet


Tap Your Feet, who closed out her 2001 campaign by winning the Illinois Princess Handicap at Hawthorne, makes her seasonal debut Saturday at Sportsman's Park in the $100,000 Peach of It Handicap for older fillies and mares. The Peach of It is one of six $100,000 stakes on the Illinois Champions Day card.

Tap Your Feet started her career in Neil Howard's barn at Churchill Downs, but soon found herself at Arlington winning against Illinois-breds. Last August, Tap Your Feet was transferred to Chris Block, who is stabled year-round in Chicago and could better oversee her preparation for statebred races. She has won two of three for Block, her only loss coming in the slop.

"She spent the winter in South Carolina, and seems to be doing very good," said Block. "Her arrival up here was delayed by the weather, but I've gotten two breezes in her. She's talented and most of the fillies in the field haven't started this year, either."

Robby Albarado, who rode at Sportsman's in 1995, has accepted several live mounts on the card, including Tap Your Feet in the one-mile Peach of It.

Another filly from the Block stable, Slide to Glory, will also be making her first start of the year in the Peach of It. Slide to Glory won at first asking last June, then went unplaced in three straight races before winning her final two starts, both statebred allowance races at Hawthorne.

"I really felt with her conformation that she was just a sprinter, but my daddy kept pushing me to run her long and she really responded to the change," said Block. "She's a two-turn horse now."

Tap Your Feet and Slide to Glory will race uncoupled.

The Peach of It field also includes last year's winner, Faccia Bella. Faccia Bella had limited success following that win, going unplaced in eight of her last nine starts of the year. The only good race during that streak was an upset win in an optional claimer at Arlington in September.

Out of Options and Explosive Action, both stakes winners against Illinois-breds last year, have a chance to earn a share in the Peach of It. Out of Options, who spent much of 2001 in the claiming ranks, sometimes for as low a price as $10,000, was an upset winner of the Little Sucker Stakes at Hawthorne in December. Explosive Action has not seen action since last April, when she won the Lawdy Miss Clawdy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

In other Champions Day stakes:

* Classic Appeal and Tic N Tin, the one-two finishers in last year's Chicagoland Handicap, will square off again in the six-furlong Chicagoland, which goes as the eighth race.

Classic Appeal failed to win in seven starts after the 2001 Chicagoland, but Tic N Tin won several stakes and more than $200,000. He also took on the region's best sprinters in the Arlington Sprint, which he lost to Bet on Sunshine by a nose. Tic N Tin was recently second in the Lost Code Handicap against open company.

Tic N Tin's arch-rival, Magic Doe, disappointed as the favorite in the Lost Code, but should not be overlooked. The 7-year-old Magic Doe won four of his last five starts in 2001, beating Tic N Tin in two of them.

* The most wide-open event on Champions Day is the $100,000 Governor's Lady Handicap for older fillies and mares at six furlongs. Defending champion Puny has started only once since her win last year, a third-place finish in an allowance at Beulah last month. With only two starts in the last 16 months, she could be vulnerable. The veteran mares Capitol View and Lil Bobbie Too are always dangerous, while the race's wild card, Island Riffle Cat, has looked impressive winning 4 of 5 career starts.

* The Land of Lincoln Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs looks like a showdown between two colts who won stakes at Hawthorne last fall. Cart's Forty Four, winner of the Sun Power Stakes, and Colorful Tour, the Jim Edgar Futurity winner, will meet for the first time. Colorful Tour finished second to War Emblem in an open allowance two weeks ago. Looking to pull the upset will be allowance winner Pocket Taj, and the Harvey Vanier-trained maiden winner Good Better Best.

* The six-furlong Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies kicks off Champions Day as the fourth race. The likely favorite is Scarlet O'hara, who has won her last two by wide margins, but might have benefited from the off-going in both. Tejano Honey won a statebred stakes at Fairmount Park last October, then placed in the Hoosier Debutante.

The Frank Kirby-trained pair of Dinner in Reno and Be Factual each won entry-level allowances at Sportsman's two weeks ago. They are coupled on Saturday.