08/12/2008 12:00AM

New, improved Rock Gold seeks 3 in a row


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Seemingly lost on a 4-year-old gelding named Rock Gold was a very basic racing fundamental - winning.

Rock Gold won his maiden race on March 22, 2007, and trainer Walter Bindner coaxed a nonwinners-of-two claiming win out of the horse last summer at Arlington, but over and over, 12 times in all, Rock Gold tried and failed to win an entry-level allowance race.

That's what makes Rock Gold's two-race winning streak coming into the featured seventh-race on Thursday at Arlington so noteworthy. Rock Gold finally cleared that elusive first-level allowance condition with a narrow win June 15 sprinting on turf at Churchill Downs, and what's more, he came back with an even stronger victory on July 12, winning a second-level, off-the-turf sprint race over Arlington's Polytrack.

Now that he's found a knack for winning, rather than just coming close, who's to say Rock Gold can't capture his third in a row? He looks just about as good as any of the other six horses entered in a third-level allowance also open to $62,500 claimers that's carded for about five furlongs on the grass course.

Rock Gold typically stalks the pace and comes with a steady stretch run, and a trip like that might be just the ticket in a race that appears top-heavy with early speed. Preachin Man, who has started just once since bringing up the rear in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, can run half-miles in 44 seconds and change; Hurry Home Warren went 43 and change in a couple of his races "down the hill" at Santa Anita. Run Alex Run and Art and Soul also prefer racing near the front, and the pace in Thursday's seventh could turn frenetic.

While Rock Gold is climbing the class ladder, Prosico is dropping, and could prove formidable at this level. Lightly raced, with 6 wins in 19 starts midway through his 5-year-old season, Prosico has only one victory - a narrow January win over the Tampa Bay turf - to his credit this season. But a glance at his company lines reveals such names as Mr. Nightlinger, Lookinforthesecret, and Fort Prado, all horses better than the crew he faces this time. To get him in the race, owners Marc Goldish and Savoy Stable and trainer Dale Bennett must risk Prosico for the $62,500 tag, but the move seems more realistic than negative.

Prosico figures to sit just behind the early pace and move to the front in midstretch. From there, it may only be a matter of holding off the suddenly determined Rock Gold.