04/27/2005 11:00PM

Silver Bid keeps getting better


CHICAGO - Silver Bid has won seven of his last 10 starts, has won the last two Illinois-bred sprint stakes run in Chicago, and stands tall among statebred sprinters. The four horses that will challenge him Saturday at Hawthorne in the Chicagoland Handicap have combined to win 23 races; Silver Bid himself has won 16.

He is no Spectacular Bid, but the local Bid - also a gray - now has banked more than $623,000 in purses during his five seasons of racing. And he gets better and better. Two years ago, Silver Bid finished eighth of nine in the Chicagoland, and at the time he was mired in a slump that included 10 losses in 11 starts. But Silver Bid, his races spaced more judiciously by trainer Joel Berndt, turned into a win machine for owners Terry Renfrow and Eugene Young in 2004. By Buckbean out of Pinochle, Silver Bid should give hope to every small-time breeder with a modest mare to breed to a no-name stallion.

A funny thing happened to Silver Bid in his most recent start: he lost. But finishing second to the graded-stakes-class Coach Jimi Lee was no disgrace, and Silver Bid ran about as fast as he ever has in that April 5 allowance race.

"I'm happy to report he's as good right now as he's ever been," Berndt said. "His last race, he just got outrun. I've hooked that bugger three times now, and he's beat me every time."

Silver Bid's longtime rival Shandy, who won this race last year, has the rail, with Big Bold Sweep, Jack of My Heart, and Take Achance on Me completing the field. Take Achance on Me, who has faced open company in all but one of his 41 starts, invades from Maryland for trainer Mike Trombetta.

Land of Lincoln: 'Humor' solid choice

In three starts racing around two turns, Humor at Last has never won, but in three sprint starts Humor at Last has never lost. The Land of Lincoln Stakes is at six furlongs, and Humor at Last clearly is the one to beat in a nine-horse field.

Humor at Last won his career debut here last October by seven lengths, and came back a month later with a comfortable victory in the Sun Power Stakes, another six-furlong race. But he was upset in the two-turn Jim Edgar Futurity to finish off his 2-year-old season, ran evenly when he finished third Feb. 19 in the one-mile Southwest Stakes, and was a disappointing fourth as the odds-on favorite in an overnight route stakes here March 12.

So much for the Illinois Derby, an early-season goal. Instead, Humor at Last returned to a sprint and got back in the win column in a second-level Illinois-bred allowance race here March 29.

"He dropped a little weight off his last race, so we backed off him a bit," said trainer Tony Mitchell. "He could do with a few more pounds on to my liking, but he's doing okay."

Kodangel, a blowout Illinois-bred allowance winner in his last race, might be the second choice, but is coming back on fairly short rest after his win. Dress for Success, who turns back from a two-turn allowance victory, has a chance if Humor at Last is engaged on a fast pace.

Governor's Lady: Synco Peach all set

Winning would have been nice, too, but what trainer Percy Scherbenske really wanted for Synco Peach was a prep race for the Governor's Lady Handicap. Scherbenske found one on April 11, and hardly was disappointed when Synco Peach finished third in that open sprint allowance after racing on the lead from the rail.

"It was her first start back in five months, and she just got tired," Scherbenske said. "I needed to get in there and get a race under her belt."

Scherbenske predicts a tighter Synco Peach and a performance like the one that landed Synco Peach a convincing win last November in the Powerless Handicap over many of the same horses she meets Saturday.

Dharma Girl and Dutchie, who finished first and second, separated by a nose, in Synco Peach's comeback race, both are obvious contenders.

Lady Hallie: Meadow Bride faces test

Meadow Bride has won three of five races, and she easily beat older horses in her only start this season at age 3. And while there remains a sense that Meadow Bride has yet to handle a horse of real quality, Meadow Bride is a deserving favorite in the Lady Hallie, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

Trained by Richard Hazelton, Meadow Bride beat five rivals while ridden out to victory in her first start of the season. But this time she must deal with a pair of sharp debut winners, Pretty Jenny and Cart of Stars, both of whom scored flashy wins in statebred maiden races here April 8.

Peach of It: Jaguar City threat to wire

Jaguar City could wind up loose on the lead in the Peach of It Handicap, and though she has mainly been a sprinter during a 13-start career, Jaguar City won a two-turn, one-mile allowance race over the winter at Fair Grounds.

"The distance won't be a problem," said trainer Bobby Springer.

Among Jaguar City's nine rivals is Cashmere Miss, who upset the Illini Princess last fall at Hawthorne.