07/24/2007 11:00PM

Lots of close calls this year for Janks


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill - The Christine Janks barn had all the right horses and the luck to go with them at last season's Arlington Park meet. This year, not so much.

Make no mistake, this hardly is a lost season for Janks, who stands fifth among Arlington trainers both in terms of wins - she had 14 through last week's racing - and purse money. But with those 14 wins have come 34 seconds and thirds; a fortunate break here and there, and the victory total would be much higher.

Despairing, however, Janks is not. "No, because before they were thirds and fourths," Janks said moments after Chuffed had finished - that's right - second in an Illinois-bred allowance race Wednesday.

Friday, in Arlington's featured third race, the Janks barn sends out Modjadji, one of those horses who actually got there in an Arlington race this summer. Janks also entered Stop a Train in the Friday feature - which is basically a fourth-level allowance race at 7 1/2 furlongs that's also open to $80,000 claimers - but said she would be scratched in favor of a Fairmount Park stakes.

Janks decided this year that Modjadji, who had kept mainly to route races earlier in her career, was better suited to sprinting, and felt vindicated when Modjadji won going six furlongs in the July 7 Isaac Murphy Handicap, beating another Janks horse, Pretty Jenny, by a neck.

"She's doing really well right now," Janks said.

The same positive report comes from Greg Geier, trainer of Coolwind, who looks well-spotted Friday. Coolwind won a one-mile allowance race early this meet before finishing a close fifth of 10 last out in the Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup.

"She worked good, and I think it's a good spot for her," said Geier, who added that he hoped Coolwind, a closer in one-turn races, would find some pace to chase Friday. Geier also said he believed that a third horse, the Kentucky invader Leah's Secret, was the one to beat in Friday's third - and he may be right.

Based at Churchill with trainer Helen Pitts, Leah's Secret raced in four Grade 2 stakes and a Grade 1 to start her season, holding her own in all but the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill in May. But Leah's Secret ran a flat race when she finished a well-beaten fifth as the odds-on favorite in the June 30 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows. Perhaps the race's two-turn trip did not suit her; maybe Leah's Secret doesn't fancy night racing. Or, maybe her form simply has slipped since hitting a peak in late 2006 and early 2007.