07/09/2002 12:00AM

Mystery is part of his game


CHICAGO - Jerry Hollendorfer has us all going around in circles.

Last Sunday, Hollendorfer surprisingly had the promising colt Trickey Trevor in a $35,000 claiming race, though he eventually scratched him in favor of Kool Kool, who won easily and was claimed. Wednesday, Trickey Trevor is in again, this time in a strong second-level sprint allowance for 3-year-olds, the seventh of nine races at Arlington.

This is the first week of Arlington's Summer Festival, a six-week period of increased purses that includes the best racing at this meet besides the October World Thoroughbred Championships. Arlington recently scaled back Festival purses, but Thursday's two-other-than still is worth $37,000, up $5,000 from the pre-Festival level.

And this is the kind of money suited to a horse of Trickey Trevor's talent. Yes, he missed 11 months of racing after an impressive debut win here last summer, but his June 5 comeback produced another impressive win, and 16 days later he was third in a quickly run allowance after missing the break and dueling on a fast pace.

His entry in the claimer threw people for a loop, and Hollendorfer has further complicated matters by coupling Trickey Trevor with Twentythreejaybird in Wednesday's race, though he says Trickey Trevor is the more likely to actually run.

If nothing else, the chess game is keeping people on their toes.

"It's a personal little strategy I like to use sometimes," Hollendorfer said. "This is a sport and an industry, but people forget, it's also a game, too. I have to figure out why guys do things, and they have to figure out why I do things. Guys in Chicago have their way, and I have my way of playing."

Whichever move he makes, Hollendorfer has a strong position.

There may or may not be something going on with Trickey Trevor's well-being right now, but he has turned in two fast works since his last start and has shown more raw ability than any of his opponents.

And if Hollendorfer does an about-face and comes with Twentythreejaybird, that could work, too. Unraced since November, when he had a troubled trip while fifth in a stakes race, Twentythreejaybird has been posting exceptional works. His six-furlong work in 1:11.60 was a standout on Saturday's work tab.

There are others to consider, especially Premier Performer and Tinker, both of whom come off first-level allowance wins and would benefit from a contested pace.

There's also quality in the eighth race, a mile turf race for fourth-level allowance horses or $75,000 claimers. Mi Sierra, who probably wants to run farther than this, and Smilin' Slew are logical contenders, while Master Stuart deserves upset consideration.

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