05/29/2003 12:00AM

New surface, same old arch-rivals


Ten Cents a Shine is probably the best Ohio-bred 3-year-old in training, but he has been running in graded stakes, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. In his absence, Hackendiffy and Forest Picnic have dominated Ohio-bred stakes since they began racing as 2-year-olds last year.

Hackendiffy, who has defeated Forest Picnic handily two of the three times they have met, will face his arch-rival once again in Saturday's $50,000 Green Carpet Stakes at River Downs.

As the name implies, the Green Carpet will be run over the turf at 1 1/16 miles. Though wet weather has been common in the region the last several weeks, the forecast is for dry conditions through the weekend.

Hackendiffy, based at Churchill Downs with trainer Bernie Flint, has left little doubt about his superiority. Hackendiffy beat Forest Picnic by more than 12 lengths in the Juvenile Stakes at Thistledown last September, and most recently won by nearly 10 lengths in the Summit Silver Cup, also at Thistledown. Forest Picnic finished a clear second in both.

The only time Forest Picnic had the upper hand in the rivalry was in the Best of Ohio Juvenile last October. Hackendiffy held a commanding lead until the top of the stretch when Forest Picnic began to whittle away at the margin. Forest Picnic prevailed by a half-length. Hackendiffy's owner, David Eigel, later said his colt came out of that race with a knee chip.

With suspect competition awaiting them in the Green Carpet, Hackendiffy and Forest Picnic should battle for the win, despite having limited turf influences in their pedigree. Hackendiffy recently worked a half-mile over the turf at Churchill in 48.60 seconds, the best of four works at the distance that day.