01/29/2004 12:00AM

No rush to bring 'Beau' back

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Beau's Town will not be here Saturday to defend his title in the King Cotton Stakes, but could see action at Oaklawn as early as March.

Following his win in last summer's Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar, Beau's Town was regarded as one of the top contenders for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He was injured in his final Breeders' Cup prep, and underwent surgery to have a small bone chip removed from his ankle. Beau's Town is scheduled to have his first work since the surgery this weekend, at his training center base in Louisiana.

"He could have been ready by early February," said Dave Hulkewicz, who owns Beau's Town. "But it's a long year. We've taken an extra month longer than we needed."

Hulkewicz wants to pace Beau's Town this year, with his major objective being the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30. His road there could include starts in the $50,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn or defense of his title in the $125,000 Pelleteri at Fair Grounds, both in March. It could also include a defense of his title in the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap; the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap; and defense of his title in the Grade 2 Bing Crosby.

"I envision [a comeback] in March," Hulkewicz said. "He'll tell us when he's ready, but I really think he'll be ready quick."

Beau's Town has used swimming as part of his fitness regimen while away from the races, spending five weeks in the pool before he returned to galloping. He has remained in Louisiana this winter so his training would not be hampered by potential inclement weather in Hot Springs, but he is soon due to arrive at Oaklawn.

"Mentally and physically, he's better than he's ever been in his whole life," Hulkewicz said. "I think he's going to have a big year."

Chindi, 10, still a stakes horse

Just to be racing as a 10-year-old is an accomplishment for most horses. But Chindi, who will start Saturday in the King Cotton, continues to remain competitive at a high leveln. He picked up his latest stakes win two starts ago when he captured the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Championship.

"He thinks he's 4," said Steve Hobby, who trains Chindi for Cresran LLC. "He likes racing. He hates being turned out. As long as he can run at his level, we'll keep running him."

Chindi's longevity is due in part to the fact that he is a closer. "I think the running style has helped," Hobby said. "He paces along. He never has to really run that 21 and change quarter like some sprinters do.

"And he's so smart," Hobby added. "He never gets upset. He never gets excited. He never over-trains. He rests. He eats good. He takes care of himself so well."

Chindi is approaching $1 million in earnings. So far in his 68-race career, he has won 17 races and $932,421.

Plans pending for Wildcat Shoes

Wildcat Shoes, who was edged as the 3-5 favorite in the $50,000 Mountain Valley last Saturday, remains under consideration for the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Feb. 28, although plans for his next start have not been determined, said his trainer, Jinks Fires.

"We're looking around," said Fires, who trains the colt for Patricia Blass. "We're not ruling the Southwest out, we're just kind of looking at our options first. We're looking at some sprints."

Wildcat Shoes has won 3 of 5 starts, all around one turn. He was an impressive winner of the $60,000 Sugar Bowl two starts ago at Fair Grounds. Since the Mountain Valley, he has trained well, Fires said.

"He came back real good," he said. "In fact, I tried to walk him an extra day, but he wouldn't let me. He was bucking and kicking."