09/30/2008 11:00PM

Reavis runners right at home on familiar dirt


STICKNEY, Ill. - Trainer Mike Reavis strongly believed that after a troubled final season of dirt racing in 2006, Arlington Park needed to install the all-weather racing surface the track now employs.

"We like the Polytrack for a lot of reasons," Reavis said Wednesday morning at Hawthorne.

Horses are more likely to stay in off-the-turf races. Cancellations during the Arlington Polytrack era have been nonexistent.

But Reavis moved his large string to Hawthorne from Arlington as soon as the dirt track was open for training here in September.

"The horses were getting jarred up," said Reavis.

Reavis hopes Arlington next year addresses what he believes is an all-weather surface too tightly compacted by two years of racing and training. But in the meanwhile, Hawthorne is more like home to the Reavis barn, anyway. Reavis said many of his horses have responded favorably to the Hawthorne dirt track, deep and demanding as always, and his stable won two races during opening week.

In the featured fourth race Friday, Reavis will send out Churubusco, who hasn't raced since he finished a badly beaten fifth on Arlington's main track on July 14. Churubusco has, however, posted three timed workouts here at Hawthorne, including a bullet five-furlong drill on Sept. 10.

"He's doing really good right now," Reavis said.

Churubusco was one of seven horses entered in a second-level allowance race carded at six furlongs on the main track, a race in which it's hard even to identify the favorite. Giant Hit ran well enough to win this race in his most recent starts - but in Giant Hit's case, "most recent" means more than a year ago. Away from the races since July 2007, Giant Hit shows timed workouts dating to mid-July for trainer Louie Roussel.

In Nike's Honor ran decently at Arlington this summer, but might prefer dirt. He won his maiden and an entry-level allowance over a dirt track at Prairie Meadows before finishing second and fourth on Polytrack in August. Big Red Ranger seems about equal on synthetic and dirt tracks, and had a solid Arlington meet racing in $50,000 claimers probably comparable in quality to Friday's second-level allowance.

But Churubusco has a chance at a minor upset. He won an allowance race at Hawthorne way back in March 2007, and finished fourth in stakes company in his only other start here. It's Hawthorne dirt, and the Reavis horses seem to like it.

Torres to resume riding next week

Jockey Cisco Torres won the Robert F. Carey Stakes on 15-1 shot Wise River here Saturday, but Torres won't begin riding regularly at Hawthorne until Wednesday, his Hawthorne agent, Oscar Sanchez, said Wednesday.

Torres, Sanchez said and Arlington stewards confirmed, wasn't actually issued a license to ride here until Saturday morning, just hours before post time. Torres, who has battled substance abuse problems through much of his career, will be subject to a rigorous testing regimen here. Torres lost his license last fall at Hawthorne, but was granted a Louisiana license this summer, and rode the Louisiana Downs meet. Stewards there gave Torres a letter of recommendation to facilitate his licensing in Illinois.

Sanchez said Torres is to ride Saturday night at Retama Park and Sunday at Louisiana Downs before driving to Chicago to begin accepting calls here next week.

In town this week for the Hawthorne meet is Ryan Fogelsonger, who was named on horses for Saturday's races. Fogelsonger rode through the summer at Presque Isle Downs, where he won 46 races and finished sixth in the jockey standings.

Perry Compton also has started riding at Hawthorne.

Palanka City's next uncertain

Plans are up in the air for Palanka City, the talented 3-year-old filly sprinter who dropped in class and easily won the Regal Rumor Stakes by four lengths here Saturday.

"We're thinking if we want to give her a break before Oaklawn, or try and find a race for her somewhere," said Terry Gestes, who trains Palanka City for owner Bill Stiritz.

Palanka City could not keep pace with the top horses in the Grade 1 Test and the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga, but outclassed her foes here in the Regal Rumor.

Gestes also said that the talented 2-year-old maiden filly Afleet Deceit is under consideration for the Pocahontas Stakes next month at Churchill Downs. Afleet Deceit finished fast and was a narrowly beaten second in her career debut, and was a solid fourth going one mile in the Arlington-Washington Lassie. Gestes said he had entered Afleet Deceit in Hawthorne maiden races that had failed to fill. Both Afleet Deceit and Palanka City are stabled here at Hawthorne.