06/21/2006 11:00PM

Original Spin a question mark


CHICAGO - On raw talent, heads a field of 11 Illinois-breds entered in the Purple Violet, one of six stakes races Saturday at Arlington Park. How many of her opponents would have finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, or won the Arlington-Washington Lassie? But Original Spin enters the summer of her 3-year-old season with questions to answer.

Given a break after the Breeders' Cup, and put back to work at a training center in Aiken, S.C., Original Spin ran three furlongs in her comeback race, the March 5 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park, and then stopped cold. Jockey Rene Douglas told trainer Tony Mitchell that he had horse one moment, none the next. Original Spin finished last of 10.

She was poked, prodded, and scoped, but nothing was found to be obviously amiss, and finally it was suggested that Original Spin's hormones were out of whack: She was coming into heat and staying there.

"I wasn't quick to jump on any bandwagon, but I've really come to believe her coming into season really messed up her hormones," said Mitchell. "Since then, we've taken care of all that."

Mitchell lightly penciled in the Purple Violet after Original Spin returned to his barn from a Kentucky farm last month, and Original Spin has done nothing wrong since she went back into serious training. Her last two breezes were bullets, her June 19 gate work especially strong.

"She's thrived here at Arlington," said Mitchell.

A one-turn mile, the Purple Violet is no soft spot, and Original Spin drew post 11. In post 3 is her most obvious challenger, , who won an overnight sprint stakes by six lengths last out, but did so over a muddy track she loved.

"How much did the mud move her up, and is she going to stretch out?" said trainer Ronny Werner. "I think the one-turn mile will suit her fine."

White Oak: Silver Bid still strong

Joel Berndt, trainer of the 8-year-old Illinois-bred sprint star Silver Bid, said several weeks ago that he kept waiting for some young buck to arise and take over the 8-year-old Silver Bid's division. Well, Alabama Clay is no spring chicken, but he is a major new player in the White Oak Handicap.

A long layoff has limited Alabama Clay to 11 career starts, but he has won his three most recent starts, one more impressively than the last, and comes into the White Oak five weeks after dominating an open third-level allowance at Arlington.

But Silver Bid is waiting. So too are other experienced stakes horses like High Expectations, Knowwhatimean, and Just See James. In all, 11 were entered in the six-furlong White Oak, but Big Rushlet will scratch if his entrymate High Expectations races here as anticipated, rather than in the Black Tie Affair.

Silver Bid won this race in 2004 and still has some punch. He was third last out in the Zen Handicap, but at seven furlongs that race was farther than his best, and Silver Bid stumbled at the start. Saturday, Silver Bid

desperately needs a clean break from post 2, and even then could find himself in an early tussle with the speedy Alabama Clay and other pace horses.

A fast pace is what High Expectations needs. He won the seven-furlong Zen with a zingy turn move, but is 0-4 in six-furlong races.

Lincoln Heritage: New game for Modjadji

Christine Janks was singing Modjadji's praises months ago, and Modjadji showed why when she upset Bluesbdancing on June 2 in an overnight stakes race at seven furlongs on dirt. And if Modjadji is as talented as Janks believes, she might be able to make the transition to a two-turn turf race and win the Lincoln Heritage Handicap.

Janks could have chosen the Isaac Murphy at six furlongs on dirt for Modjadji, but said she "didn't really want to go that way with her."

Modjadji finished second in her two turf tries, and is a better horse now than she was then. "If you look at her numbers, they were better on turf at the time, and she also was still running green," Janks said.

If not with Modjadji, then Janks has a shot with Ms. Lydonia, who also comes into the race in good shape, according to Janks.

Included in the rest of the field are the last two Lincoln Heritage winners: Beau Happy, who won the 2005 race but is poorly drawn on the outside, and Lighthouse Lil, the 2004 winner who was seventh in last year's edition.

Springfield: 'Union Scale' one to beat

Last season, Barely Union Scale lost his first five starts, all at short odds and three times as a favorite, but he finally got the hang of this racing thing. Barely Union Scale won his maiden in November and has turned in excellent performances his last three starts, most recently finishing second here to the older horse High Expectations.

"I don't know why he suddenly woke up," said trainer Tom Swearingen. "I knew he had it in him all along, but he just wasn't mentally in it like he should've been."

Barely Union Scale has gotten good enough that he's the horse to beat in the Springfield Stakes, carded at one mile on dirt for 3-year-olds. He has the outside post in an 11-horse field, but has plenty of time to get position during the long run down the backstretch.

The contenders are many in the Springfield, but of particular note are Cart's Maybeoughta, Tally Up, Best of Buddies, and Silver Titan.

Isaac Murphy: Two stand out

It's difficult to see the six-furlong Isaac Murphy as more than a two-horse race. Who do you like, Bluesbdancing or Pretty Jenny?

Janks will take her horse, the still-improving 4-year-old Pretty Jenny. "Bluesbdancing's an extremely good horse, but I think I can beat her," Janks said.

Janks, in fact, beat Bluesbdancing in a seven-furlong overnight handicap June 2 with Modjadji, but Bluesbdancing might be better at Saturday's shorter distance.

"It sure looks like three-quarters is better for her," trainer Terrel Gore said.