11/02/2007 11:00PM

Mighty Rule wins stakes debut

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Clear-cut wins aren't part of Mighty Rule's arsenal. The horse usually shaves things close, win or lose. But every race - turf, dirt, Polytrack, probably anything - Mighty Rule will go out and try, and his can-do attitude netted a career-best win on Saturday in the $87,900 Lightning Jet Handicap.

The Lightning Jet was one of six Illinois-bred stakes at Hawthorne on Saturday.

The Lightning Jet marked the 12th start of 4-year-old Mighty Rule's career, and he now has won 6 times, with 4 seconds and 1 third. This was his first try in a real stakes race – he’d been second in an overnight turf sprint here at Hawthorne in his most recent try – and Mighty Rule made the most of it, running down Shrewd Operator to post a 1 3/4-length win.

Mighty Rule, ridden by James Graham, obviously takes his racing seriously. Training, however, is a different story.

"In the morning, you take him out there and he doesn't really want to do much of anything," trainer Christine Janks said.

Mighty Rule did plenty on Saturday, sitting second behind a sizzling early pace before making his move coming off the turn. He collared Shrewd Operator inside the eighth pole and left his rival behind in deep stretch.

Shrewd Operator, the 4-5 favorite, was compromised by trouble leaving the gate. Breaking outward, Shrewd Operator bumped hard with Just Viareggio, then rushed frenziedly to the lead, going his first quarter-mile in 21.35 seconds. The half went in 44.50, and Shrewd Operator actually showed his quality, holding second by 2 1/4 lengths over High Expectations.

Mighty Rule paid $14.40 to win, and was timed in 1:09.58 for six furlongs.

Buck's Boy: He's Hammered does it

It felt like an upset in the $88,725 Buck Boy, but He's Hammered got hammered by bettors somewhere, paying a surprisingly short $13.80 while winning for the first time since 2005.

Trainer Dale Bennett cross-entered He's Hammered in the Buck's Boy and the six-furlong Lightning Jet, but said he felt the Buck's Boy might be a softer spot and that He's Hammered could take advantage of a quick Hawthorne surface that has carried speed this week.

"I thought, 'I'm just going to throw him in the route race and see what happens,'" Bennett said.

He's Hammered had lost all four of his starts this year, had gone 0 for 13 in 2006, and his recent form showed only $25,000 sprint claimers.

"I didn't have a lot of confidence going in, I'm not going to lie," Bennett said.

There was speed to the outside, but He's Hammered was able to make a clear early lead, and even after going his opening half-mile in a testing 47.67 seconds, he drew clear in the stretch, winning by 6 3/4 lengths over favored Stonehouse. Win Me Over was third.

Princess: Lampoon overcomes rep

Lampoon ($17.20) shed her bridesmaid tag in the $91,275 Illini Princess Handicap, drawing off to a four-length win over Stop a Train.

Second nine times with only three wins entering Saturday's action, Lampoon got a perfect trip under Israel Ocampo, who won his second stakes of the day. Tuffted set the early pace, pressed by Tour d'Aura, while Stop a Train raced two to three paths wide, and Dyna Slam even farther out in the track. Ocampo, meanwhile, hugged the rail with Lampoon, came through a narrow hole at the quarter pole, and easily outfinished Stop a Train, who held a clear second over Boudoir, the tepid favorite.

Sun Power: Dakota Rebel pays $90.40

The $100,300 Sun Power Stakes completely changed even before the race began. Chief What, the even-money favorite, broke out of his starting gate and ran off - albeit slowly - for close to a quarter-mile. His price had drifted up to 7-5 by the time Chief What was reloaded, and Chief What ran flat in the Sun Power. Meanwhile, the other 10 horses remained standing in their stalls as Chief What was corralled and led back, and the Sun Power was turned topsy-turvy.

Chief What never was a factor, while second choice Rocket Rodd faded after setting the pace, and 44-1 shot Dakota Rebel held off a late run from 34-1 River Bear, winning the Sun Power by a length. Dakota Rebel paid $90.40 to win and keyed a $1,673.20 exacta. Billy's Bar Buddy - a relative favorite at 6-1 - finished third.

* Cart's Italian Rose ($17.80) struggled all summer on Arlington's Polytrack, but has come on strong on the Hawthorne dirt. She won a maiden race here Sept. 28, and scored a much richer victory Saturday in the $110,125 Showtime Deb Stakes. Cart's Italian Rose won a stretch war of attrition, beating My Facts by a head, with 7-5 favorite Carbella third.

* Denoun N Deverb has always been a prolific winner at her home base, Fairmount Park, but on Saturday in the Powerless Stakes, she broke through at Hawthorne, and did so in strange fashion. Typically a front-runner, Denoun N Deverb came from mid-pack under jockey Paul Nolan to win the $105,375 Powerless by three-quarters of a length.

Modjadji, last in the early going, came home well for second, and was followed by her heavily favored stablemate Pretty Jenny.

Denoun N Deverb, a 5-year-old trained by Rusty Hellman, won for the 11th time in 29 career starts, but scored just her second victory in eight Hawthorne races. Breaking from the rail, Denoun N Deverb sat behind a fast, contested pace, set first by Magnetic Miss, then Pretty Jenny and Taylor Madison. After a half-mile clicked off in 45.19 seconds, Denoun N Deverb was pulled four wide, took aim on the tiring leaders, and edged clear late.

Another in a string of upset winners in Saturday’s six Illinois-bred stakes, Denoun N Deverb paid $33.60, and was timed in 1:10.68 for six furlongs.