07/03/2004 12:00AM

Prep comes up like stakes

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The Possibly Perfect Stakes on Monday at Arlington was designed as a prep for the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap, but this is a Grade 3-quality race itself.

"The bottom line is this is a good race. It's very competitive from top to bottom," said the trainer Tony Reinstedler.

In Aud, Reinstedler has one of the Possibly Perfect's top contenders - but only one of them. With Bedanken, Cat's Cat, and Beret also entered, there is a disconnect between the Possibly Perfect's strength and its $40,000 purse. Five others were entered in the 1 1/8-mile grass race. Princess Pelona, It's Spooky, and Casual Attitude might be better on dirt. Delicatessa would need a career-best performance, while Border Blues still is a two-other-than allowance horse.

Aud, winner of the Grade 3 Pucker Up over the Arlington course last summer, began her 2004 season with a strong second in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 1 at Aqueduct, but she lacked her stretch kick when she finished seventh May 29 in the Mint Julep at Churchill Downs, her home track.

"She had a lung infection," Reinstedler said. "It was a wet week. She didn't show signs of it before the race, but she had one afterward. We gave her some time to get over it, and it's cleared up."

At least Reinstedler knows what happened. Donnie Von Hemel remains perplexed by Bedanken's last two races. An assortment of physical problems last year cost Bedanken most of her 4-year-old season, but she impressively won the first two starts of her comeback last winter. Bedanken had won 9 of 12 races and went off at 2-5 when she finished third April 17 in the Irving Distaff at Lone Star. Back on the same course six weeks later, she was eighth in the WinStar Distaff.

"The best explanation I came up with is she just didn't care for that short Bermuda grass at Lone Star," Von Hemel said. "For as consistent as she is, she just didn't run at all down there. I was happy enough with the way she trained. The first time, I thought there were some factors. The second time, she just didn't run anywhere near the way she can. We're hoping a change in venue will help."

Aud and Bedanken ran subpar races. Beret hasn't gotten to run at all. Beret, third in the Modesty last summer, stumbled and dumped jockey Chris Emigh two strides into her 2004 debut May 8 at Hawthorne, and she has been rained out of grass starts several times since then. She and Cat's Cat, beaten a head in the June 20 Lady Canterbury, are not far behind the lead group in this deep race.

Thornton may miss three months

Apprentice jockey Tim Thornton has a broken bone and an injured ligament in his wrist, and could be out of action as long as three months, according to his agent, Chuck Del Preto.

Thornton hurt his wrist in a spill late in the National Jockey Club at Hawthorne meet, and Del Preto said the fracture could originally have occurred then. Thornton suffered his recent setback when he went down in a one-horse spill last weekend.