07/24/2001 11:00PM

Megans Bluff has little need for rest


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - You could just about set your calendar by the 4-year-old filly Megans Bluff. When she starts Saturday as the 118-pound highweight in the Modesty Handicap at Arlington, the amazingly durable Megans Bluff will be racing for the 17th consecutive month. She has made at least one start per month since February 2000.

And when Megans Bluff races, she shows up. It took her six tries to win her maiden, but since that time she has won 7 of 14 starts, and in her 20 career races she has finished worse than third only twice.

"She had a break when she was born," trainer John Hennig joked on Wednesday. "I've been around a long time. She's an unusual horse, to say the least.

"We give her a week or two weeks [of rest] at a time," Hennig said. "She's never called for a break. She keeps her flesh, she keeps her spirit, and she keeps her mind."

And she keeps running well in graded stakes. She has won four of them, the Arlington Oaks and the Arlington Matron at this track last summer, the Mrs. Revere at Churchill last fall, and the Mint Julep at Churchill this spring. In her most recent race, Megans Bluff finished third, beaten two lengths, in the Grade 3 Locust Grove.

Megans Bluff's Arlington stakes wins both came on dirt, but Hennig believes the filly, owned by James Routsong, prefers turf, on which her last three victories have come.

She will face what is shaping up to be a full field in the 1 3/16-mile Modesty, part of a three-stakes day here Saturday along with the Round Table Stakes and the Arlington Handicap.

Great Fever, who was a sharp winner of a turf allowance here in her last start, won't run in the Modesty, trainer Wayne Catalano said. "She needs another week or so," said Catalano.

Solvig, who ships from Churchill, and Polaire, who comes in from the West Coast, are the second highweights at 116 pounds.

Greely tries three more stakes

Phase one of trainer Beau Greely's Arlington invasion was washed away last Sunday, but the stakes assault continues this weekend. The Southern California-based Greely, who shipped seven horses here two weeks ago, will be back in town to saddle Takarian in the Arlington Handicap and Jig in the Modesty. Sunday, the highly regarded European import Sligo Bay, winner of the Cinema Handicap in his only prior American start, finished a well-beaten fourth in the Grade 2 American Derby, which was run on a boggy turf course after heavy thunderstorms hit the area in the middle of the card.

"I almost considered scratching him, but he needed a race," Greely said. "I wasn't disappointed in him by any means. I just don't think he's suited to turf like that."

Sligo Bay will remain at Arlington and train up to the Grade 1 Secretariat on Aug. 18. "I wouldn't run back on another course like that," Greely said. If the turf is wet, Greely said he would change course and run Sligo Bay in the Del Mar Derby.

Meanwhile, Takarian, who won the Grade 2 American Handicap on July 4 at Hollywood in his last start, will be part of a short field in the Arlington Handicap. Greely said Takarian had laser surgery to free an entrapped epiglottis last winter, and judging by his last race, the procedure, which makes it easier for a horse to breathe during strenuous exercise, was a success. Takarian, Dallas Turf Cup winner El Gran Papa, and Make No Mistake should attract the most support in the Arlington Handicap, which could go with as few as five starters.

* Compendium, who won the Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs this spring but finished unplaced in the Iowa Derby earlier this month, will make his next start in the Remington Park Derby, trainer Steve Asmussen said.