07/12/2006 11:00PM

Round Table tough one to crack


Winston Churchill's famous quotation concerning "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma," supposedly referred to Russia. He might as well have been talking about Saturday's Round Table Stakes at Arlington.

The first horse to talk about in the Round Table is one who is not running: , one of two horses entered by trainer Dale Romans, is scheduled to start instead in an overnight stakes race Saturday at Churchill Downs. Romans still has Irish Majesty for the $100,000 Round Table, a nine-furlong dirt race for 3-year-olds, but Bright One's blowout maiden win in his second career start, and a pair of blazing five-furlong works since, would have made him one of the favorites.

is okay, too, with a last-out entry-level allowance win at Churchill and a half-length loss to Sunriver last winter at Gulfstream. But Irish Majesty's form looks much like that of seven others in the Round Table - good enough to win, but far from overwhelming. In fact, only a victory by Chin High would count as a true upset in this race.

, the tepid favorite, is drawn on the far outside, a tough spot, and his form seemed like it might have peaked with a win in the Northern Spur Stakes in April at Oaklawn. A close fourth-place finish last out in the Northern Dancer at Churchill wasn't bad, since Admiral's Arch was hung wide and caught behind a slow pace, but he might get the same kind of trip Saturday.

On the fence is , who beat Admiral's Arch in an Oaklawn allowance race three weeks before the Northern Spur, a victory that spurred owner Paul Hanifl to purchase Casino Evil, who then moved to the barn of trainer Mike Tomlinson.

"We're looking for a big race from him," said Tomlinson, who is based in Kentucky, but has left Casino Evil to train at Arlington, since Mr. Hanifl lives in nearby Barrington Hills.

Casino Evil is 0-4 since being purchased, but has run well in those four entry-level allowance races, twice finishing second, twice third, and getting into trouble several times. Last time out, Casino Evil suffered a narrow loss at Arlington to High Blues, another entrant in the Round Table.

"We have not had the best of luck with him, but the horse is doing well, and I think he deserves a shot in there," said Tomlinson