05/20/2001 11:00PM

McHenry County Kid can breathe easy


STICKNEY, Ill. - In this, the Lasix age, it's not surprising to see a whole field of horses racing on the hugely popular anti-bleedermedication. Before this weekend, McHenry County Kid had raced clean throughout his career, but after bleeding in his last start, McHenry County Kid will start on Lasix in Sunday's featured ninth race.

If the medication does its job, McHenry County Kid can end a run of bad luck and win for the second time in his career. McHenry County Kid faces a full field of turf horses in the entry-level allowance, which will be contested at about nine furlongs on Hawthorne's grass course.

Exactly why horses sometimes bleed in their upper respiratory system when under stress remains something of a mystery to veterinarians. But trainers are well aware of the syndrome's deleterious effect on performance. Lasix-on has long been a powerful handicapping tool, especially so when the horse in question has demonstrated class before the addition of Lasix.

McHenry County Kid definitely has turf ability. He struggled in maiden allowance company at Arlington Park last summer before switching to turf, then won immediately. His second grass start came in the Frank Arsenault Breeders' Cup here last fall, and the colt ran very well, dueling on the lead before finishing a close third to the good turf horse Mr. Miesque. In his final 2-year-old start, McHenry County Kid led into deep stretch, but was nipped at the wire and finished second in Hopemont at Keeneland.

McHenry County Kid started his season this year at Sportsman's Park - no turf course there. Two fruitless dirt starts behind him, McHenry County Kid was favored here May 1 in his return to turf, but had no finish, probably because of his bleeding. The colt has worked twice since then for trainer Michael Weissman and should get back on track Sunday.

Young Trev, who won here last fall but spent the spring in California, and Private Bound, a recent maiden winner, may provide the stiffest competition. Young Trev won his maiden at Hawthorne in November with a late rush on the turf course. His last allowance try, at Bay Meadows, produced a solid third-place finish.

Private Bound won here on dirt two weeks ago, but might well be a better horse on turf.