09/14/2007 12:00AM

Ness spent $12,500 wisely

EmailARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Lookinforthesecret ranks third among U.S. horses in terms of wins during 2007, but he is the best claim so far in the young training career of Jamie Ness.

Claimed by Ness and owner Sukharan Balkrisna out of a winning effort for $12,500 on Jan. 5 at Tampa Bay Downs, Lookinforasecret has won six races since - three of them stakes - while earning close to $165,000. Sunday at Arlington, Lookinforasecret has a good chance to notch his eighth victory of the season in an open allowance race at five furlongs on turf.

And though Lookinforasecret has won seven races on conventional dirt tracks, Ness said he thinks his horse hits another level on grass.

"He's a lot better horse on turf, really," Ness said. "Everybody who rides him says he's a better horse on turf, just glides on it. He's really tough at five-eighths. I haven't been around horses that long, but I haven't seen a horse with the speed he has."

Ness has dabbled in training since 2000, but divided time between the backstretch and the simulcasting department at Canterbury Park. In 2004, armed with sufficient horseflesh, he went into training full time, and pretty much has been on the rise ever since. Ness wound up second in the Canterbury standings this summer, and will spend his first meet in Chicago this fall, with a 30-horse Hawthorne string.

Lookinforasecret looks like his best runner, despite entering 2007 with 4 wins from 14 starts and career earnings of only about $46,000.

"He's just seemed to get better and better in my program," said Ness.

True enough. Lookinforasecret won the $75,000 Turf Dash at Tampa by 1 1/2 lengths despite missing the break, and in his lone turf opportunity at Canterbury, he thrashed the fast horse Smoke Smoke Smoke by more than four lengths. Sunday, he will have to deal with the early speed of Prosico and - if he starts - Caruso. Caruso and Star by Design form a coupled entry for trainer Richard Hazelton; Carlos Silva was named on both horses.

Standing to benefit from a smoking pace is Fort Prado, who has made 35 career starts, none in a race shorter than seven furlongs.

"We've wanted to try [a sprint] for a year, but it just hasn't worked out timing-wise," said trainer Chris Block. "We're going to give it a shot and see what happens."

Strange path to becoming a jockey

The apprentice rider Inez Karlsson notched her first career victory in Wednesday's eighth race, but surely she leads the local standings in terms of obscure resumes.

First, Karlsson is Swedish, and Swedish female jockeys, at last check, are in fairly short supply. She also remains the second-rated boxer in Sweden's light flyweight division, with 14 wins against 6 losses. Before the boxing came a tenure pumping gas, fixing flats, and changing out wiper blades at a filling station.

"That wasn't a good job," Karlsson said.

Karlsson worked with Standardbreds back home, but not in the conventional sense. She knows how to drive in a sulky, but spent more time on horseback, breaking young horses to saddle, and exercising them without a cart attached.

She traveled to Canada two summers ago with one bag packed, planning to stay for six months, learn English, and go home. Instead, after hooking on with trainer Justin Nixon, who trains for Frank Stronach, Karlsson made her way to the States, eventually landing in Chicago. She began race-riding this summer at Arlington, and won for the first time in Wednesday's eighth on Death Valley for trainer Chris Block.

"January 2006 I was supposed to go home and finish my university studies," Karlsson said. "I still have my apartment there. But you can't make a living over there in the horse business. North America is the place to be."

And North America, specifically Hawthorne, is where Karlsson - who now has a U.S. work permit - will remain.

Robertson's good horses get time off

Hugh Robertson has entered full turn-out mode. Turned out for the season are Lovango - trained by Robertson's son Mac, but based this summer at Arlington - the sharp 2-year-old debut winner George's Cigar, and the filly Dimple Pinch.

Lovango probably ran his best race of the year Aug. 11, winning the Forward Pass by more than eight lengths while establishing a seven-furlong Polytrack mark of 1:21. But Lovango has been going steadily since late in 2006, and rather than continue to squeeze, the decision was made to back off and point for the Oaklawn meet.

"There was nothing really wrong with him, but he was getting to the point where he was getting some wear and tear," Hugh Robertson said. "He's going to be a nice horse to be around, as long as you can keep him sound."

George's Cigar, an E Dubai colt who ran a snappy six furlongs while wining his Aug. 11 debut by more than five lengths, also will be pointed for Oaklawn.

Meanwhile, Robertson has been unable to get Three Hour Nap into a race, though the horse is set to make his first start since sustaining a fractured leg in the 2006 Washington Park Handicap.

"I've entered him, but they didn't fill the races," Robertson said. "I'll take him to Keeneland and try to run him down there."