09/05/2005 12:00AM

Price always right on Courthouse


CHICAGO - The highest-priced horse on the Arlington backstretch makes an appearance in the featured fifth race here Wednesday.

But it's not like Courthouse cost some ungodly sum at auction. His boxcar prices have come on the odds board, and bettors consistently have underrated Courthouse this meet. Consider that he: won a race at 45-1; has finished second at 70-1 and 27-1; and was most recently third in the Cigar Stakes on Arlington Million Day at almost 45-1.

, trained by Robert Gorham for a partnership of owners, is one of six horses entered in a one-mile dirt race for third-level allowance horses and $50,000 claimers. And it's safe to say he won't be the favorite. That role probably goes to the Illinois-bred 3-year-old High Expectations, who easily won the Springfield Stakes for statebreds earlier this meet and was third in the Round Table Stakes. But when High Expectations tackled older horses in an open allowance for the first time on Aug. 14, he finished a distant second as the 3-5 favorite.

has the rail and speed, and figures to go for the lead, with Chachacharlie pushing from his outside post. Courthouse stalks, as does Bound for Fame, a win threat in from Kentucky for trainer Niall O'Callaghan. Bound for Fame finished third, beaten more than seven lengths, in the West Virginia Governor's Handicap on Aug. 14 at Mountaineer Race Track, but Wednesday's race is a step down in class, and Bound for Fame had trouble the last time he raced.

"I think he fits there," O'Callaghan said. "He stumbled at Mountaineer, and he was stuck down inside horses. He runs better when he's a little more free-wheeling."

A move from two turn races to a one-turn mile also might boost Bound for Fame, who easily won his last two starts at a configuration comparable to the one in Wednesday's race. O'Callaghan has one final tactic ready to use, too.

"We will go up there a couple days ahead of time, and I will stable with Wayne Catalano and maybe get some of that karma," O'Callaghan said.

Catalano, easily Arlington's leading trainer, is close to breaking his own record for wins at this meet. While he has no horse for the Wednesday feature, Christine Janks, second in the standings, trains High Expectations. While he had won two earlier this meet at the distance of his last race, 1 1/8 miles, the Springfield was a one-turn mile, and it was in that start that High Expectations showed his greatest punch. It might come down to High Expectations and Bound for Fame in the stretch - unless it is Courthouse at a price.