05/22/2007 11:00PM

Repeat won't be easy for Gouldings Green


CHICAGO - Saturday's Hanshin Cup Handicap, the first graded stakes race of the Arlington season, turned out like much of the racing here this meet - surprisingly strong and deep.

The names of 11 horses were called when entries were taken and post positions drawn Wednesday for the Saturday program at Arlington, and the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup, carded for one mile on Arlington's all-weather main track, looks much deeper than in recent seasons. Defending champion Gouldings Green, placed first in the 2006 Hanshin when Fifteen Rounds was disqualified, returns from Kentucky to defend his title but should find the going tough this year. Arlington linemaker Joe Kristufek made Gouldings Green a third choice behind tepid morning-line favorite Lewis Michael (7-2) and Purim (4-1).

Also in the race is the graded stakes winner Fort Prado, who makes his Polytrack debut; Buddy Got Even and Throng, one-two finishers in the local Hanshin prep; Star by Design, a winner in four of his last six starts; Connections, an easy high-end Keeneland allowance winner last out; and High Expectations, a winner of multiple Illinois-bred stakes races. Barbican and Spotsgone figure to be the longest shots in the race.

Gouldings Green, second in the 2005 Hanshin, won the Turfway Park Fall Championship over Polytrack last fall but hasn't raced since a fourth-place finish last October at Woodbine and thus is giving up recency to both Purim and Lewis Michael. Purim, who has never raced on Polytrack and drew the far outside post, was an excellent third behind Kip Deville and Showing up in the Makers Mark Mile last month at Keeneland, where Lewis Michael finished second to razor-sharp Silent Name in the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup. Lewis Michael has been based at Arlington for nearly a month and turned in a half-mile breeze on Tuesday morning.

"He went the last eighth in 11 and three [fifths seconds], so that's all you're looking for," trainer Wayne Catalano said.

Janks horses catching no breaks

Trainer Christine Janks is going through a period of strikingly poor luck, and heading into this week's racing, her Arlington record stood at 1 for 19, with 12 horses either second or third. That's a stark contrast to 2005 and, even more so, 2006, when Janks seemed to have the right horse for the right Arlington race about every day, and caught all the breaks.

"I just had two extraordinary years, and it's unreasonable to think that's going to happen all the time," Janks said. "I've got good horses, and one of these days it'll start to click in my favor."

Janks had favorites in feature races all last week but couldn't break through. Modjadji threw in a clunker in a sprint allowance Thursday. Chic Dancer had a tough trip when she finished second on Friday, and Pretty Jenny ran her heart out in the Fit for a Queen Stakes on Saturday, only to lose by a head after a brutal trip.

"It's hard to see one have to make three runs like that and get beat," said Janks.

On Saturday, Janks's entry in the Hanshin will fly below the radar: High Expectations is a top Illinois-bred who exits a stakes win and is on top of his game, but he still figures to be something like 15-1 in the Hanshin, which may be the toughest spot he has ever tried.

"Logically this would be a step up for him, but there's not really another race for him, and if it sets up and there's a lot of speed, he's got a shot," Janks said.

Good sprinters return

Two of the best sprinters in Chicago are back at Arlington after shipping east for stakes races last weekend. Semaphore Man finished a close, closing third to Grade 1-place Diabolical in the Maryland BC Sprint on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico while Coach Jimi Lee made a winning 2007 debut in the Waterford Park Handicap on the same day at Mountaineer Racetrack.

Semaphore Man's trainer, Kelly Von Hemel, and Jim DiVito, who trains Coach Jimi Lee, both said they are uncertain where the horses will run next.

Golden Harpoon may get loose

Friday's featured ninth race, a second-level Polytrack allowance, drew a full field of 12, with two horses on the also-eligible list.

The feature looks extremely competitive, but it might be worth keeping an eye on Todd Pletcher's horse, Golden Harpoon. Pletcher has won with five of his first 13 starters at Arlington, and Golden Harpoon could steal off to an easy early lead.