08/25/2002 11:00PM

Oft-beaten Bahroba's class says he will win

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CHICAGO - For a horse that has finished seventh, fifth, fourth, and fifth in his last four races, Bahroba appears strangely formidable in Arlington's featured seventh race on Wednesday.

It's all a matter of class. Bahroba lost to such tough turf horses as Falcon Flight, Cetewayo, Kappa King, and Private Son in his last two starts, both graded stakes, but Wednesday he's in against fourth-level allowance or $75,000 claiming horses. When the real running starts this time, Bahroba should sense the difference.

And it's not like Bahroba has been coming home way up the track in these stakes forays. He was part of a blanket finish July 27 in the Arlington Handicap, beaten less than two lengths for the win while somehow finishing behind six others. The strength of that race became more apparent during the Arlington Million, which Arlington Handicap winner Falcon Flight might have won with a clear run in the stretch.

Even Bahroba's recent allowance races have come against better horses than he meets Wednesday, and a simple repetition of the form he has demonstrated in his last several starts for trainer Dennis Ebert and owner Alan Drey should suffice to land Bahroba his first win in a tough-luck season.

If Bahroba's recent races have taken their toll, Wednesday's race becomes much more complicated. In the tier just below the favorite reside horses like Yankee Brass, who was a close fourth Aug. 4 in a race common to many entrants in this one.

With only one start since December, Yankee Brass needed a race and should move forward at fair odds. Man O'Rhythm, Major Omansky, and Reno Rumble all are in good form, while Meadow Champ and Gold Ruckus become prime contenders if rain moves the race to dirt.

No Breeders' Cup for Bonapaw

After cruising to an easy win here Saturday in the Arlington Sprint, Bonapaw is headed back to two-turn races and probably won't sprint again until late November. Dennis Richard, co-owner of Bonapaw with his identical twin brother, Jim, also said it was unlikely Bonapaw would be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"I hate to sound cocky, but he won that race pretty easy," Richard said. Jockey Gerard Melancon "smooched to him and that was the end of the story."

Bonapaw has displayed his

resilience and versatility this summer at Arlington. In the Hanshin Cup last month he demonstrated that a disappointing trip to Dubai this spring had not sapped his talent, and at one mile the Hanshin Cup also proved Bonapaw could win beyond sprint distances. Now, he will be asked to transfer his talent to turf in the one-mile Sea O'Erin on Sept. 29. Richard said another turf race is on Bonapaw's calendar in October, but Bonapaw will revert to sprinting when he tries to win his third straight Thanksgiving Day Handicap opening day at Fair Grounds.

Mystery Giver bled, trainer says

Bonapaw could run into Mystery Giver in the Oct. 26 Steinlen Handicap, since trainer Chris Block tentatively is pointing his colt to that spot. Block expects an allowance prep race for the Steinlen to show up in the condition book during September, and that's where Mystery Giver's likely to start next.

Block said Mystery Giver returned from his last-place finish in the Arlington Million in good shape. With no pace in the Million, Mystery Giver wound up contesting the pace for the first time in his career before fading on the far turn.

"He bled a little bit, and I think it was a combination of that and how the race set up," said Block. "I have no regrets about running him there. I just would've liked to have seen a different pace scenario. We put up $15,000 [in supplementary nomination fees] to see what would happen," Block said.

Extra Check, Caucus look ahead

Trainer Mike Stidham has stakes plans in the works for two promising young horses, Extra Check and Caucus. Extra Check, third in the Secretariat, could start next in a third-level allowance race. Stidham said the allowance could serve as a prep for the Oct. 12 Lawrence Realization at Belmont Park. Stidham said the 12 furlongs of that race would suit Extra Check.

Meanwhile, the exciting 2-year-old filly Caucus could be headed to the Arlington-Washington Lassie here Sept. 28 or to the Alcibiades at Keeneland. The Lassie is a one-turn mile race, the Alcibiades a two-turn 1 1/16-mile race.

Caucus, owned by Arthur Hancock and Jim Stone, stumbled after the start of her sprint debut, then made a sweeping move on the turn, and wound up second. On Wednesday, in a mile race, she left nothing to chance, contesting a fast pace, then opening up for a five-length win.

"She galloped out really well," Stidham said. "She was about 10 in front on the turn. She's back at the track and everything seems great."