10/18/2001 11:00PM

Minor Wisdom, major challenge

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Since Minor Wisdom just won a $200,000 stakes race a few weeks ago, you would figure he would stand out in Saturday's $50,000 Bowl Game Stakes at Arlington. Not so.

The local older turf division has been strong all summer, and a good field of 11 was entered in the Bowl Game, which is run at about 1 1/16 miles on grass.

There are at least three obvious contenders in the Bowl Game besides Minor Wisdom, though a repeat of his most recent race, a win in the Kentucky Cup Mile on turf at Kentucky Downs, will make the diminutive Illinois-bred tough Saturday. Owned by Carolyn and Joe Friedberg and trained by Richie Scherer, Minor Wisdom, a graded stakes winner, is one of the best Illinois-breds of his generation. His campaign this year as a 5-year-old got off to a slow start, but Minor Wisdom has come to hand this fall. Before winning the Kentucky Cup Mile he was beaten only a neck here in the $100,000 Sea O'Erin.

Hot on his heels that afternoon was Langston, who has finished third or better in all six of his starts this year for owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano.

On the advice of stable manager Steve Leving, Calabrese claimed Langston in August 2000 for $80,000, a purchase that seemed questionable when Langston needed several months of recovery from an injury. But Langston has come back this year to earn more than $140,000, and won a high-end allowance race here Sept. 29 by almost three lengths.

Like Minor Wisdom, Reno Rumble is an Illinois-bred who has transcended his statebred status, winning several open stakes. In fact, Reno Rumble won the Bowl Game last year by three lengths, though the field he beat probably was not as strong as this one. In his most recent start, Reno Rumble, a homebred owned by Team Block and trained by Chris Block, ran down the graded stakes winner Fan Club's Mister to take a statebred overnight turf handicap.

Jake the Flake was the hottest turf horse on the grounds earlier this summer, winning consecutive allowance races impressively. Jake the Flake, who is trained by Hal Wiggins, left town and won a turf stakes at Mountaineer Park, but finished unplaced behind Minor Wisdom in the Kentucky Cup. If Jake the Flake simply did not care for the undulating European-style turf course at Kentucky Downs last month he might rebound in the Bowl Game.