06/28/2007 12:00AM

A revitalized Demeteor tries Polytrack


CHICAGO - Things have happened belatedly for Demeteor. Born in 1999, Demeteor didn't make the races until the summer of his 4-year-old season. And this summer, at age 8, Demeteor is in the midst of a revival. Demeteor has won two straight races over Arlington's turf course, and he will try to transfer his reborn form to Polytrack on Saturday in the $50,000 Dr. Fager, an overnight stakes race that drew a field of just six.

While Dr. Fager was a renowned miler, the Dr. Fager Stakes is for some reason at 1 1/8 miles, a distance Demeteor may find demanding. But after sharp victories in his two most recent starts, and a sharp five-furlong workout June 22 on Arlington's Polytrack, Demeteor may not realize he looks more like a turf miler at this moment.

Owner Kenneth Hoffman, who has trained Demeteor for much of his career (Bill Lazuka saddles the horse Saturday) obviously felt Demeteor had talent from the start of his racing days, throwing him in the prestigious Smile Sprint Handicap after only two career starts. That turned into a disaster, with Demeteor 12th of 13, but the horse lived to fight another day, and after switching to grass racing, twice came within a neck of winning a Grade 3 stakes.

Thing is, Demeteor was starting to look fried over the winter. After missing close to a year of racing, he finished seventh or eighth in three of four starts after making a comeback last December in Florida, but Demeteor still had life in his legs. He ran much better on Keeneland's Polytrack this spring, and was quite impressive in both wins over the Arlington grass, turning in sub-24-second final quarter-miles in both.

But to win three straight, Demeteor must get past an all-encompassing name in American racing circles - Todd Pletcher. Pletcher's Arlington string jumps into the fray Saturday with Throng, the likely favorite. Throng didn't show his best when he finished seventh last out in the one-mile Hanshin Cup on May 26, but he has positive prior experience in races at the Dr. Fager distance.

Mr. Pursuit, Sidcup, and even Air Academy may also have a chance at top honors.

Rare injury for Coach Jimi Lee

Coach Jimi Lee cannot win his fourth straight Iowa Sprint Handicap this weekend at Prairie Meadows, simply because he is not entered.

For five seasons of racing, trainer Jim DiVito said, Coach Jimi Lee had an injury worth noting only when he fell during a race at Ellis Park, but DiVito said Coach Jimi Lee sustained an injury to his splint bone "a few days ago," and would be out of training for about three weeks.

"It's amazing it happened, really," DiVito said.

That is, amazing in a disappointing way. Popping a splint, a little bone running along the cannon bone in the foreleg, happens regularly enough, but DiVito was surprised his hickory 7-year-old had succumbed to an ailment at an inopportune moment.

"If you look back on the history of the horse, I haven't had any problems with him," DiVito said.

Coach Jimi Lee has made one start in 2007, winning the Waterford Park Handicap on May 19 at Mountaineer Race Track.