11/13/2003 1:00AM

Seven races brave harsh wind


STICKNEY, Ill. - Northwest winds gusted through Chicago at close to 30 miles per hour Thursday afternoon - and the weather seemed mild.

It was, compared with Wednesday, when Hawthorne managed to conduct seven of nine scheduled races under unbelievably windy conditions. The wind swept east on Thursday, canceling races all over the East Coast. Wednesday, with sustained winds over 40 miles per hour and gusts approaching 60, Hawthorne almost made it through an entire card.

It was not easy. The light stanchions in the infield swayed as whirlwinds tossed leaves and debris over the racetrack. Racing down the backstretch with the wind at their backs, horses were blitzing quarter-miles in 21 seconds and change. Turning into the stretch, however, they hit a wall of wind. In the sixth race, it took Out of Jail, the winner, 15.39 seconds to run the final furlong.

"When I dismounted, the wind picked me up and blew me into the scale," said Eddie Martin, who rode Out of Jail. "You couldn't whip, you couldn't twirl your stick. All you could do was take a long hold and hold on."

"It was like it was picking the horses up off the track," said jockey Larry Sterling. "Whichever way the wind was blowing, that's the way you were going."

Hawthorne initially announced refunds on Pick 4 wagers that started in the sixth race but later found state law required the Pick 4 be paid out on two winners. There were only two winning tickets, each worth $252.60. The Pick 3 starting in the sixth race also paid on two winners, and was worth $116.80. Pick 3 wagers beginning with the seventh race were refunded.

Dutchie's stakes debut put on hold

A stakes debut will wait until next year for Dutchie, the talented Illinois-bred 3-year-old filly. A candidate for Saturday's $100,000 Oaks, Dutchie was withdrawn from consideration when her trainer, Michelle Boyce, found the Oaks had lured a strong field of 11.

"I thought the race might come up with a short field, but when I found out what the race looked like, I decided to find her an easier spot," Boyce said. "I know she'd try, but for the third start of her career, I didn't want to tip her over backward."

Especially after Boyce had waited so long for Dutchie to come around. Dutchie showed talent from the start, and Boyce had her ready to run during the summer of 2002, but Dutchie came up with tender shins and never started at 2. This year, Dutchie neared a race as many as five times, but shins or minor illness kept her from starting. All along, Boyce and her barn staff tried to help Dutchie overcome her high-strung temperament. When she finally made her debut here Oct. 8, Dutchie came out in front bandages and a full hood covering her ears.

But Dutchie can run. She won her debut by more than eight lengths, and then stretched out to two turns to score by a quarter-length. Boyce said she hadn't trained Dutchie much for the two turn race, but Dutchie still finished nearly 20 lengths ahead of the show horse.

"I'm thinking she'll be even better next year," said Boyce. "We've waited this long with her. Why rush now?"

Entries pack Saturday's program

A total of 102 horses were entered in Hawthorne's Saturday program, and entries here have been strong all week.

"It's the fall of the year, and people are hungrier I guess," said racing secretary Gary Duch. "We have fewer categories than a lot of tracks, and with fewer spots to run, they go into the same races."

Duch said Hawthorne is averaging 9.1 starters per race so far this meet.

* Eddie Martin, within one win of the lead in the Hawthorne jockey standings, leaves for Fair Grounds after Sunday's races.