08/31/2001 11:00PM

Monday Stakes

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Finding Sea O'Erin winner a labor indeed

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Labor Day is supposed to offer a respite from the demands of work. But Labor Day patrons at Arlington must work hard indeed to separate the horses in the $100,000-added Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup Mile. A field of 12 was entered in the race, seven of whom finished first or second in their most recent race, and nine of whom are weighted just four pounds apart.

The Sea O'Erin launches a nationwide wager called America's Pick Four, which continues with the Cradle Stakes at River Downs, the Diana Handicap at Saratoga, and the Miami Breeders' Cup at Calder. Arlington will serve as the wagering hub for the bet.

It is nearly as hard to make a favorite as it is to pick a winner in the Sea O'Erin, which is contested at one mile on turf. Galic Boy starts as the 118-pound highweight, having won an overnight handicap here in his last start, but he has no clear edge on several of his rivals.

The pick here is Ask the Lord, who may not yet have tapped his full potential and comes into this race on a three-race win streak. Trained by Al Stall Jr., who has had an exceptional meet here, Ask the Lord most recently won a third-level allowance that was rained off the turf. Craig Perret has a call on Ask the Lord.

Langston and Apt to Be, who finished heads apart in a July 28 turf allowance here, as well as the superior Illinois-bred Minor Wisdom, also are threats.

- Marcus Hersh

Louisiana Downs

Discreet Hero's march to the Grade 1, $500,000 Super Derby starts in the $50,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La. Discreet Hero, who has won his last three races, including the Grade 3 Round Table at Arlington Park, is the class of the Prelude, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds that serves as the local prep for the Super Derby on Sept. 23.

"We're there because we want to run in the Super Derby," said Al Stall Jr., who trains Discreet Hero.

Discreet Hero has developed rapidly over the past few months, winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs on June 16, then capturing two stakes at Arlington Park in July, the $50,000 Alydar and the $125,000 Round Table, which was run over the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Prelude. "I think more ground has helped him," said Stall.

Stall said Discreet Hero has not raced since the July 28 Round Table in order to keep him fresh for a fall campaign. "I think he'll run a big race," said Stall, who has given the mount to Curt Bourque.

- Mary Rampellini

Prairie Meadows

ALTOONA, Iowa - The $100,000 Prairie Meadows Handicap presents an interesting handicapping challenge, because practically all of the six entrants have a shot at victory.

Neon Shadow and Chicago Six are the co-highweights at 118 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile race. Neon Shadow enters off a neck victory in the 1 1/8-mile Buckpasser at Arlington on Aug. 18, and an allowance win at Churchill Downs. Both of those wins came over off tracks, on which he excels, but no rain is forecast for the area Monday.

Neon Shadow has won 11 of his 23 starts. Trainer Carl Bowman has named Chris Emigh to ride.

Chicago Six makes his first start since running fourth to Guided Tour in the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington in July. Chicago Six captured the Grade 3 National Jockey Club Handicap at Sportsman's Park this spring for trainer J. R. Smith Sr.

Chicago Six has a record of 14-3-2 from 33 starts and $587,983 in earnings. Alfredo Juarez Jr. rides.

- Dave Basler

Evangeline Downs

Hail to Bag puts his unbeaten record on the line in the $50,000 Lafayette Stakes, the traditional closing-night feature of this meet. The six-furlong race has drawn a field of 10 2-year-olds.

Owned by trainer Doris Hebert and Brittlyn Stables, Hail to Bag is coming off a neck victory in the Shine Young Futurity here July 3. Prior to that he won a maiden race and his qualifying trial for the Shine Young by a combined 13 lengths.

A speedy son of Bag, Hail to Bag breaks from the rail. Steve Bourque, aboard for Hail to Bag's two most recent wins, rides at 122 pounds.

Also to carry 122 pounds is the other stakes winner in the field, Courvoisier. Trained by Dale Angelle, Courvoisier has won all three of his starts, including the Bayouland Futurity in his most recent start. Regular rider Brian Hernandez will be aboard.

- Jeff Taylor

Ellis Park

The feature race on closing day at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., is the $75,000 Tri State Handicap.

The Tri-State could have the old veteran Chorwon as the favorite. Having raced back into shape for trainer Hal Wiggins, Chorwon clearly is the class of a field of nine entered in the 1 1/8-mile Tri-State.

Other contenders include El Basque, who is a threat to lead throughout for trainer Bernie Flint; Medievil Hero, the consistent half-brother to Favorite Trick; and Air Rocket, a capable veteran trained by Bob Holthus.

The Tri-State is carded as the 10th of 11 races.

- Marty McGee

Thistledown

NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Western Pride, winner of the $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park in his last race Aug. 11, will be a heavy favorite in the $25,000 Ohio Derby Prep at 1 1/16 miles. The Grade 2 $300,000 Ohio Derby will be run here Sept. 29 at 1 1/8 miles.

Western Pride has won three of his last four starts, and prior to the West Virginia Derby was a sharp second in the Grade 3 Round Table at Arlington Park. Based locally with trainer Richard Estvanko, Western Pride should have little difficulty wiring this field. Dana Whitney will come in from Mountaineer to ride.

Turkowar should provide the main opposition in the field of seven 3-year-olds. He is riding a four-race winning streak, the last two in stakes, and has proven that he can carry his speed this distance.

- Chuck Scaravilli

Columbus

COLUMBUS, Neb. - Mr Zooha will have his speed put to a stern test when he carries co-high weight of 122 pounds in the $7,000-added Labor Day Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs.

Trained by Dan Coughlin, Mr Zooha has won two straight, both allowance races going six furlongs. Mr Zooha, to be ridden by Alex Granda, has never won at the distance and may have trouble going this far.

Trainer Marv Johnson sends out a strong entry of Ty Man and Let Me Lead. Let Me Lead carries 122 pounds with Armando Martinez in the irons, while Ty Man will carry 120 pounds and Jerry Carkeek.

Let Me Lead was closing fast when second to Mr Zooha in an Aug. 19 allowance, and in July won the Nebraskaland Handicap at Horsmen's Park. Ty Man is also a stakes winner this year.

- Bill Hodtwalker