10/10/2005 11:00PM

Martinez showing locals what he can do


CHICAGO - Jockey Seth Martinez, a longtime denizen of Canterbury Park and Turf Paradise, has dabbled in Chicago racing the last couple of seasons. If he stays out the Hawthorne meet, he has a strong chance to finish in the top five in the jockey standings, perhaps even make a run at leading rider.

Martinez has stirred interest here with his strong, driving finishes. The stretch run is where the fans and horsemen are closest to the action, and that is where Martinez's strength has been on display. He gets the most out of a mount, even if he's riding for third or fourth. But there also is intelligence to his craft; Martinez has done well riding in grass races.

After 14 racing days this meet, Martinez has 11 wins from 68 mounts, two fewer wins than leading rider Jesse Campbell, whose strong finish at Arlington has carried over to Hawthorne. Campbell doesn't ride the featured sixth race here Thursday, but Martinez has a live mount on the Christine Janks-trained , a longshot, will start only if the race is rained onto the main track.

James Graham was riding Flashdance Star for Janks at the Arlington meet, but Graham is at Keeneland now, and Martinez has picked up a live mount. A 4-year-old, Flashdance Star ran poorly in her lone turf try last year, but when returned to grass in midsummer, she showed immediate spark, winning an Illinois-bred entry-level allowance. Two tries at the next condition produced two close second-place finishes, and Flashdance Star comes into the Thursday feature off a nice five-week freshening. She has turned in a pair of solid dirt works since moving to Hawthorne.

Martinez does not seem to mind the fence, and can make the most of Flashdance Star's rail draw. For the most part, inside posts have been golden in grass races at this meet.

The two horses drawn outside of her, , both have a chance, especially Tuffted, who also has been freshened up, and who easily won an entry-level turf allowance at Arlington when last seen. Rojo Sol, part of a coupled entry from trainer Moises Yanez, also deserves respect, having scored her own convincing victory at the allowance class below this one in her final start of the Arlington meet.