06/02/2003 11:00PM

North of Six due racing luck


CHICAGO - It's hard to complain when a horse you claimed for $10,000 is making money hand over fist, and might even be good enough to win some sort of stakes race. On the other hand, how much trouble can one racehorse get into?

North of Six has held sharp form since February, but in three second-level turf allowance races he's gotten acquainted with a mischievous trio of pals - Checked, Stopped, and Steadied. Last time out, it was Stumbled.

"From where I sit, I thought he could have won two or three more races," said Steven Fish, who co-owns North of Six with trainer Chris Bukowiecki.

Another chance comes Thursday, when North of Six is part of a full field in a second-level, one-mile grass allowance, the featured race on a very nice mid-week card at Arlington.

North of Six nearly won a first-level allowance race this winter at Gulfstream at 86-1. Handicappers didn't know then he was a horse transformed. Fish and Bukowiecki claimed North of Six for $10,000 last August, when the horse still was a weedy 3-year-old. "When we got him he was pretty skinny," Fish said. "He sat on a farm this winter for 45 days and just ate grass, and he really blossomed."

By Saratoga Six, a sire of dirt sprinters and milers, North of Six was produced by North of Seattle, a Northern Baby mare, and it's from that part of the family his fondness for long-distance turf races comes. North of Six probably can win at one mile Thursday, but his first-level allowance victory at Gulfstream came at 1 1/2 miles, and at that distance he was beaten only six lengths in the Grade 2 Pan American - with, of course, a troubled trip.

When he ran here May 17, North of Six fell out of the gate and raced too far behind the slow pace set by Mellowes, who opened an insurmountable lead on a yielding grass course. A breakthrough victory Thursday could land North of Six, the former $10,000 horse, a berth in a graded stakes race like the Stars and Stripes or Arlington Handicap, Fish said.

But first there are Thursday's opponents, led perhaps by Just Gossip. Just Gossip ran in the same May 17 race as North of Six. Just Gossip lost by 20 lengths in a performance that strongly suggested he doesn't like wet turf. In March, Just Gossip was an improving horse at Fair Grounds, and his trainer, Gene Cilio, won five races here last week.