03/12/2009 12:00AM

Not the perfect spot, but it'll do


Well, the trainer Terrel Gore finally found a Hawthorne race for Shadowbdancing. At six furlongs, Saturday's $50,000 Hula Chief Stakes probably is too short for Shadowbdancing. Plus, with only three workouts since his last start, in December, and with only that one December start since winning the Prairie Meadows Derby on Sept. 20, Shadowbdancing might be a race away from his best. But at least it is a race.

Through much of the fall, Shadowbdancing was ready to start, but no suitable spot came up, and all Shadowbdancing did until Dec. 14 was train, train, train. For lack of a better option, Gore shipped him to Remington Park for the $75,000 Governor's Cup, where Shadowbdancing broke from the outside gate, got blown about by a strong wind, and checked in fourth in a performance nowhere close to his best.

Because Shadowbdancing can run, especially in routes. He won two route stakes in Iowa last year, at 3, and in the fall of his 2-year-old season he came within a nose of beating Recapturetheglory, who won the Illinois Derby the next spring.

"This is okay for his first race of the year," Gore said Thursday morning at his Hawthorne barn. "There's a race on [April 11] going long, which I hope will go. At least he gets to run out of his own stall."

Not running out of his own stall is the Hula Chief's likely favorite, Officer Rocket, who is in from Turfway Park for trainer Mike Maker. Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey claimed Officer Rocket for $80,000 last Nov. 22, and now Maker apparently will shop around for minor stakes like the Hula Chief to pad Officer Rocket's earnings. The horse won the Holiday Cheer Dec. 27 at Turfway, but came back with a third and a fifth in stakes there.

Lissa's Star has won two of three Hawthorne starts, and has posted fast recent works here for trainer Roger Brueggemann. He might be able to take down the favorite, as might stalwart Illinois-bred sprinter High Expectations. High Expectations, a 13-time winner of more than $612,000, won his 2008 debut sprinting over this surface, but may not get the quick early pace that aids his late run.

* Hawthorne is conducting training only six days a week this meet, with the dark morning scheduled for Tuesday. But with so much rain over the weekend, training was canceled last Sunday morning instead, and held on Tuesday when things had dried out considerably.