06/12/2002 12:00AM

Schu runs Private Son in feature


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Just last summer Sally Schu served as trainer Kenny McPeek's Arlington-based assistant. But Schu and McPeek parted company before the end of last year's Arlington meet, which meant Schu missed out on all the fun this spring, when McPeek had two early Kentucky Derby favorites, Repent and Harlan's Holiday, then went on to win the Belmont last weekend with Sarava.

It also meant that Schu was back out on her own as a head trainer, a position she had occupied before going to work for McPeek.

"I had some offers to go out on my own," Schu said. "I took last winter to think about it, then started again this spring."

Schu has eight horses in training at Arlington. One is Private Son, who races here Friday in the featured seventh race, a third-level turf allowance at about 1 1/8 miles. Private Son, owned by the Starlex Farm of Roy and Joyce Monroe and formerly trained by McPeek, is the only horse Schu has started this season. "He has a first and a second," she said. "You can't beat that record."

Schu actually had Private Son two years ago at Arlington, when the colt was an unraced 2-year-old. Private Son bucked shins, Schu recalled, and did not race here, winning his maiden in October 2000 at Keeneland. But it was not until the following winter, when Private Son tried turf for the first time, that the colt found his niche. Private Son won an entry-level allowance at Gulfstream in his grass debut, then missed by a head two starts later in a Keeneland grass allowance.

"He loves turf, just loves it," Schu said. "He's like a different horse than on dirt."

Private Son was out of action for 364 days after that Keeneland allowance, but when he returned to the races April 26, his first start for Schu, there was no apparent diminution of his talent. Private Son got off poorly, raced wide, but still finished second of nine. He followed up on that race with a somewhat easy win last month at Churchill.

"We just hope he likes it here at Arlington as much," Schu said.

If he does, he wins. If not, the race falls either to Jo Jo's Boy or Bolt. Jo Jo's Boy went off form at the end of the Gulfstream meet late last winter, but won a first-level allowance and just missed in a second-level allowance at last season's Arlington meet.

Bolt seemed headed toward a stakes career two summers ago, but has since been plagued by injury and layoffs, and his last race came in December, a third in a Fair Grounds allowance. Always a good work horse, Bolt shows four fast breezes here as he returns once more for trainer Gene Cilio.

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