12/03/2008 12:00AM

Proceed Bee to take southern route

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STICKNEY, Ill. - Hawthorne in the winter is no place and time to have a promising grass horse, one reason why 2-year-old Proceed Bee went back to trainer Terry Gestes at Fairmount Park rather than coming to Chicago following his upset win last Saturday in the Grand Canyon Stakes at Churchill Downs.

But Proceed Bee is destined for Oaklawn Park this winter, a venue without turf racing at all, and his connections are hopeful that it was a stretch from sprints to a route distance, as much as a move to turf, that propelled Proceed Bee to a 22-1 upset in the Grand Canyon.

Proceed Bee, a Bernstein colt owned by Gestes's sole employer, Bill Stiritz, showed promise all along. He won his career debut sprinting over Arlington's Polytrack in August and won an entry-level dirt sprint in October at Hawthorne. A decent third in the $54,000 Meadowlake Stakes here Oct. 25, Proceed Bee made his turf and two-turn debut in 1 1/16-mile Grand Canyon, breaking from post 11 and beating 11 rivals, winning by nearly a length.

"I think the distance was the thing with him," Gestes said. "They didn't have the distance races up at Hawthorne for him, and things just didn't work out where we could get him in long."

Gestes has 20 stalls at Oaklawn, and said Proceed Bee would make his next start in a stakes race there. If Gestes and Stiritz intend to race him around two turns, they will have to await the $250,000 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 16. Oaklawn has two lesser 3-year-old sprint stakes in mid-January.

Card's first looks to be best

With Chicago blanketed in complete darkness by 4:30 p.m. this time of year, Hawthorne's mid-afternoon first post on Friday basically had turned into night racing. Sensibly, Hawthorne has moved up Friday post times to the normal 1:35 p.m. beginning this week - and don't be late if you want to catch the Friday feature.

Race 1 offers the afternoon's highest-class fare, a second-level sprint allowance race that drew seven horses. Trainer Roger Brueggemann has a coupled entry, Priceless Bull and Top Echelon, while trainer Mike Reavis has two uncoupled horses, Michael's Dreamin' and Churubusco.

Michael's Dreamin' was made the morning-line favorite, but that might not come to pass. Michael's Dreamin' just missed winning his most recent start, but that was an Illinois-bred second-level allowance, and he should find the going tougher this time. In fact, Reavis' longer-priced entry, Churubusco, merits attention. He exits a route race longer than his best distance, and should be running late.

Entrants from the high-percentage barns of Wayne Catalano (Stirrup Excitement) and Chris Richard (Mystery Guest) also should attract betting action. And not to be overlooked is Oatman, who ran decently behind promising Radical Fringe last out in a turf sprint, and probably is a better horse on dirt.

Debutante a tough one

The $100,000 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, Saturday's feature, attracted 10 entries when the race was drawn on Wednesday. Handicappers, at least, will find the route race for Illinois-bred 2-year-olds a challenge.

Gestes and Stiritz might well have the Whitworth favorite in Lose None, who was third last out in an open two-turn allowance race. Happy Henrietta, who upset the statebred-restricted Showtime Deb Stakes last month at Hawthorne, will be making her two-turn debut in the Whitworth.