04/02/2005 1:00AM

Silver Bid the star of class cast


STICKNEY, Ill. - A quiet Tuesday at Hawthorne, and out pops a stakes-class sprint race.

The featured fourth race here, for high-end allowance horses or $100,000 claimers at six furlongs, has only five horses in it, but all of them are good.

The field includes Coach Jimi Lee, who ran the fastest six furlongs ever timed in Illinois here two winters ago; Silver Bid, pro tem leader of the Illinois-bred sprint division; and Deer Lake, a stakes winner as recently as Jan. 1 at Turfway Park. The others aren't slouches, either. Shandy, another Illinois-bred, has had the misfortune of coming along in the same era as Silver Bid. Cat Singer, at least listed-stakes caliber, has been working like a maniac at Fair Grounds for his 2005 debut.

Coach Jimi Lee, probably the fastest horse in the race, all things being equal, enters in poor form. He left the Midwest last fall still going well, but showed little in three Florida starts over the winter, baffling his trainer, Jimmy DiVito. Perhaps a change in scenery and climate will do him good. Coach Jimi Lee has breezed twice since shipping north to Hawthorne, working bullets both times, but for a pace-presser such as he, post 1 is not an ideal draw.

Silver Bid, however, is as sharp as ever, with a victory in his final start of 2004 and another one in his first race this year. Silver Bid has post 2, and either he or Deer Lake, who ships in from Kentucky for trainer Richard Kohnhorst, figures to wind up on the lead.

Decision pending on Galloping Grocer

There were no major changes in the prospective Illinois Derby field as of Saturday, though the connections of Galloping Grocer have decided to put off deciding where their horse will run until Monday, according to trainer Dominick Schettino, reached Saturday by phone.

Galloping Grocer either will stay at home to run in the Wood Memorial, or fly to Chicago on Friday, Schettino said.

The Derby, at this point, figures to have a field of about eight or nine, and a horse lacking stakes experience - either Monarch Lane or Greeley's Galaxy - could be favored.

Two other stakes are scheduled for Saturday, and the six-furlong Lost Code will see the 2005 debut of Three Hour Nap, winner of the Arlington-Washington Futurity last year. Three Hour Nap, trained by Hugh Robertson, has been breezing steadily at Oaklawn, but Robertson failed to find a suitable allowance race there for the colt's comeback and has shipped him to Chicago.