10/15/2003 11:00PM

Lismore Knight returns for more

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CHICAGO - The big three in Saturday's Hawthorne Derby dwindled to two when Remind was taken out of the race, sick at his Kentucky base. Lismore Knight and Foufa's Warrior, the two highest-rated 3-year-old turf horses in the derby, no longer have Remind to conquer, but the up-and-comers Sir Walter Rahy and False Promises may turn up the heat.

Add several other fringe contenders, and the Grade 3, $250,000 Hawthorne Derby, run at 1 1/8 miles on turf, looks like an excellent betting race.

Those hoping to extract value will play against Lismore Knight, who is in from New York by way of Kentucky for trainer Todd Pletcher, whose father, J.J., owns the colt in partnership with Barry Simon. This makes three trips to Chicago for Lismore Knight, who ran well to win the Arlington Classic in June and was a solid third behind Kicken Kris and Joe Bear in the Aug. 16 Secretariat. Lismore Knight's most recent performance, a sixth in the Grade 2 Jamaica on Sept. 21 at Belmont, was his poorest of the season, but Pletcher excuses it.

"It was kind of a paceless race, and he got a little rank up on the lead," Pletcher said. "We were disappointed, but there was a reason for it. He's a really strong horse, and he needs a strong rider. If he's in behind horses, he's manageable. Otherwise, he can be pretty tough."

Norberto Arroyo, who has never ridden Lismore Knight, should get the right kind of stalking trip from post 1, but must hope for running room at the top of Hawthorne's stretch.

That is where Foufa's Warrior should begin rolling on the outside. At his best, Foufa's Warrior swept past Remind and Lismore Knight to win the Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup last summer at Delaware, but the gelding has been inconsistent, finishing fifth in the Secretariat and fifth in the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup, races in which he might have run better. Foufa's Warrior and jockey Jeremy Rose have post 11, and can do little more than drop in for position before the first turn.

Sir Walter Rahy, in from New York for trainer Jimmy Toner, looks live. With his five career starts, three this year, Sir Walter Rahy has plenty of upside, and a first-level allowance win three weeks ago at Belmont suggests this colt is rapidly developing. False Promises, perhaps the best local hope, has adapted well to turf racing, and turned in a tremendous late rally to win an Arlington allowance race in his last start.

And for good measure, those that think Blue Blood Boot, Gentleman J J, and Scottago have a chance may be onto something.