09/26/2007 12:00AM

Morse's main worry: travel

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Randy Morse twice managed to get Morluc to the Far East for the Hong Kong Sprint, so he figures to find a way to ship Jonesboro from Remington Park to Chicago for Saturday's 1 1/4-mile Hawthorne Gold Cup - even if it hasn't been easy.

Jonesboro has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles, but if Morse's assessment proves accurate, the only trip that will cause him trouble this week is the one from Oklahoma to Illinois.

"My biggest problem with this race is getting him up there," Morse said Wednesday. "I wanted to fly him, but there just was no way to do it, and right now, it looks like he's going by van."

Jonesboro, Morse said, is supposed to leave Wednesday night for a long ride - slightly fewer than 800 miles, just less than 12 hours - across the heartland, and he's definitely coming, since owner Michael Langford had to pony up $10,000 to make Jonesboro a supplemental entry into the Gold Cup.

The race was drawn Wednesday and came up with a field of six. Student Council, who flew Tuesday from California, was installed as the 5-2 favorite off a win in the Pacific Classic, while either A.P. Arrow or Jonesboro should be second choice. The $500,000 Gold Cup also includes Claiming Crown Jewel winner Miami Sunrise, minor stakes winner Wayzata Bay, and Extreme Supreme, who makes his stakes debut for trainer John Ward.

Morluc developed into a world-class turf sprinter in 2001, and while Jonesboro has a lower ceiling, he may not yet have shown his best. A seven-time winner of more than $439,000, Jonesboro's high-water mark was a win in Essex Handicap at Oaklawn, and after a summer's freshening, he easily won a Sept. 8 Remington allowance comeback. That start, Morse pointed out, came with blinkers off, an equipment change Morse made to try and get more out of Jonesboro.

"In a lot of his races, the jock would come back and say they felt like they had a lot more horse," Morse said. "It was almost like he'd wait and then start again when they got past; he always gallops out really strong."

That's why Morse believes Jonesboro won't have a problem staying the Gold Cup's 1 1/4 miles, even though he has been prone to getting passed in the stretch of shorter races.

"I really don't think the distance is going to be a problem," Morse said.

Jennie R. heads Indian Maid

The Gold Cup is one of three stakes on Saturday's 11-race card, which includes the Grade 3 Robert F. Carey over one mile on turf, and the Indian Maid, a $100,000 filly-and-mare turf stakes.

The Carey might have graded status, but with 12 horses, the Indian Maid drew a much bigger field. Quite a Bride was mentioned last week as a prospective starter here for Bill Mott, but she wasn't entered, and in her absence Jennie R. may be favored.

Eight horses went into the Carey, which looks competitive. Ballast hasn't won a race since last December, Classic Campaign since January, but they look like the top two choices in the race. Also entered was Crested, who came within a neck of winning the Hawthorne Derby on this course last fall.

Catalano barn stays hot

Is this Arlington or Hawthorne?

At the last fall meet, trainer Wayne Catalano went into a dry spell after a typically overwhelming Arlington stand, but this season the Catalano barn has continued firing even with the change of scene. After winning twice in three racing days opening week, Catalano and owner Frank Calabrese captured two more in the first four races here Wednesday.