11/17/2005 12:00AM

Quality sags as winter approaches

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Fans and horsemen at Hawthorne had their first real taste of things to come on Wednesday when wintry conditions caused the cancellation of racing after the third race. The skies were clear but the temperature still below freezing when racing resumed on Thursday, though temperatures were expected to be back in the 40's on Saturday.

And as the temperatures continue to drop, so it seems does the availability of second- and third-level allowance runners that have added a bit of class to the typical Hawthorne program. Barring any final heat wave, grass racing is all but finished for the year, so fans should expect to see fewer high-end allowances for the remainder of the meet.

The co-features on Saturday's nine-race card are two $30,000 entry-level allowances. The eighth race, for older horses at 1 1/16 miles, is a typical first-level allowance seen this time of the year, consisting primarily of turf runners with nowhere else to go, and horses that have been racing in claimers.

Bettors could go in any number of directions trying to find the winner of the eighth. Kate's Genius and Extradyne finished second and third in a similar spot here on Oct. 22, but both have drawn outside posts on Saturday. Horses breaking from post 10 and higher were a collective 2 for 43 in main track routes through last weekend.

One horse that might be overlooked is Copy Runner, who has drawn the rail. One of the favorites in the Oct. 22 allowance, Copy Runner was rating in fourth down the backstretch when he was forced to check. After a mild attempt to get back in contention, Copy Runner faded to eighth in the nine-horse field, easily his worst effort of the year.

Ludmig and Intemperate have earned competitive Beyer Speed Figures running on turf, but are a bit of a question mark on a fast main track. More likely to make an impact are Riverside Blues and Silver Castle, who each exit relatively swift victories against conditioned claimers. They are the kind of horses that tend to do well in soft allowances at this time of the year.

The fifth race is the other allowance, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies. The filly to beat might be Silver Suprise, the only two-time winner in the field, who recently dominated a field of $50,000 claimers at Keeneland. She will try making amends for her only defeat, in an allowance at Hawthorne on Sept. 28, where she faded to fifth.