12/29/2007 12:00AM

Night Chapter in search of clean trip

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - It has been painful, and expensive, to back Night Chapter in his recent races. He was a troubled fifth in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap on Oct. 27 and a troubled sixth in the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express.

Whether he would have won those races with clean trips is open to speculation, but trainer Bobby Frankel would just as soon avoid a continuation of such affairs in Monday's $75,000 Impressive Luck Handicap at Santa Anita.

The Impressive Luck is run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course and has drawn a field of eight. Night Chapter carries 118 pounds, one fewer than Bonfante, the starting highweight who was second in the California Cup Sprint and Turf Express in November.

Night Chapter was arguably best in the Morvich over the hillside turf course, losing by 1 1/4 lengths to Get Funky. He was steadied with a furlong remaining and was unable to close ground after that incident.

In the Turf Express, Night Chapter finished two lengths behind Unusual Suspect, who starts in the Impressive Luck. In the stretch, Night Chapter was forced out when Fast Parade drifted to the outside.

Frankel doubted that Night Chapter would have won that six-furlong race with a clean trip.

"It's a different race going six furlongs than 6 1/2 furlongs," Frankel said. "I think the 6 1/2 will suit him much more."

Co-owned by Frankel and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, Night Chapter has been outstanding on Santa Anita's hillside turf course, winning two consecutive stakes on it earlier this year - the Daytona Handicap in February and the Blue Jay Way Stakes in September.

Frankel had a new worry this week. Night Chapter zipped a half-mile in 46.20 seconds at Hollywood Park on Thursday, a little faster than the trainer wanted.

"He worked too quick," Frankel said. "He's doing fine physically."

Even if he runs his race, Night Chapter must beat Bonfante and Unusual Suspect.

Bonfante has been in contention in deep stretch of his last two starts, but has failed to finish the job. A winner of 10 of 28 starts, Bonfante, 6, is winless in his last five starts.

Unusual Suspect was 10th in the Grade 1 Malibu last Wednesday, a race that trainer Barry Abrams dismissed. He thought the track favored speed and worked against Unusual Suspect, a late closer.