11/01/2008 12:00AM

Old timers battle to the wire

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STICKNEY, Ill. - No, it was not Alydar and Affirmed thundering down the Hawthorne stretch, but hard-boiled Illinois-breds High Expectations and Fort Prado staged their own duel on a gray afternoon here. At the finish of the Lightning Jet Handicap, one of six statebred-restricted stakes here Saturday, 6-year-old High Expectations was a neck better than 7-year-old Fort Prado - but all credit to both veterans.

"Hey, he just got outrun," said trainer Chris Block, who raced millionaire Fort Prado on dirt for the first time in more than two years. "He ran his heart out."

Recently, High Expectations hadn't been outrunning anyone. His form went sour over the summer at Arlington, and it was only a return to Hawthorne that revived him.

"Getting him back on the dirt was really helpful," trainer Christine Janks said.

Glory to Spare set the early pace, 22.05 seconds to the quarter and 45.10 to the half, at which time Classic R.J. took over. But front-runners played no final role. High Expectations had moved up from last around the turn "all on his own," jockey Chris Emigh said, and when Fort Prado found room to rally in the stretch, the race was on. Running outside of Fort Prado, High Expectations had more momentum at the eighth pole, and he sustained it to the finish.

High Expectations paid $11.40 for his 13th win and was timed in 1:10.38 for six furlongs. Classic R.J. finished a distant third.

Bucks Boy: Stonehouse holds off challenge

Stonehouse hadn't raced since Aug. 28, when he went down at odds of 6-5 in a Fairmount Park stakes race, but when El Real Madrid challenged him just before the eighth pole in the Bucks Boy Handicap, Stonehouse ($4) quickly turned him back, pulling away to win by three-quarters of a length.

"I don't run short horses," trainer Spanky Broussard declared.

Broussard, 67, wore a small, dark fedora into the winner's circle and left one of his owners to do the in-house television interview. He went back to an office next to Hawthorne's indoor paddock to review Stonehouse's front-running victory under Perry Compton.

"That other horse got his head in front, didn't he?" Broussard said.

Indeed El Real Madrid had. But Stonehouse, despite setting a quick pace of 47.94 to the half, simply is a better horse. The winner was timed in a fine 1:43.93 for 1 1/16 miles. No one beyond the top pair did much running, with Dakota Rebel far back in third.

Sun Power: Devil's Halo stays unbeaten

Looks like trainer Richard Hazelton and the Asiel Stable have another good Illinois-bred. Devil's Halo now is 2 for 2, following up on a promising debut win here Oct. 11 with a two-length victory in the Sun Power Stakes.

Hazelton's longtime "A" rider, Carlos Silva, helped the cause. Devil's Halo broke on top Saturday, and while the race's first quarter-mile went in a moderate 22.79 seconds, Silva slowed things to a crawl around the turn: the second quarter went in 24.31 seconds, and Silva said he thought Devil's Halo "was going to be really tough at the end."

Indeed, Devil's Halo easily turned away odds-on favorite My Dominick James, running his final eighth in about 12 seconds on his way to a two-length victory. Devil's Halo paid $8.80 to win and was timed in 1:10.62. Last Wompus finished third.

Janks finishes 1-2 in pair of stakes

Janks won her second race of the day, finishing one-two in the Powerless Handicap with 6-1 Nicks beating 8-5 Pretty Jenny by a neck. And somewhat remarkably, Janks took down stakes No. 3 one race later, running one-two in the Illini Princess with Stop a Train and Modjadji.

Nicks, a 4-year-old, won her stakes debut, coming up the rail under Ryan Fogelsonger, taking the lead inside the eighth pole, and holding clear favored Pretty Jenny, who had dueled for the lead for the first half-mile. Secret Kin rallied late for third. Nicks, who paid $14.40 to win, was timed in 1:11 for six furlongs.

In the Illini Princess, the older female route race, Stop a Train a train stalked a fast pace and won this race for the second time in her career. She paid $7.20 to win, and ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.06. Modjadji hugged the fence and finished well, but fell a neck short of the winner. Apple Martini loomed boldly at the eighth pole, but finished third.

* The 22-1 shot Happy Henrietta wore down the 22-1 shot Cumulonimble and won the Showtime Deb Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by a length. Trained by Fairmount-based Steve Fridley and ridden by Tim Thornton, Happy Henrietta ($47.60) won her second race and was timed in 1:11.71 for six furlongs. Cumulonimble, a maiden, set a moderate pace and held solidly for second, finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front of Saxxy Rose Lee.