02/26/2005 12:00AM

Silver Fortune, Mary Swan may duel


STICKNEY, Ill. - The stars do not come out at Hawthorne Race Course in February. At the winter glamour tracks, the Gulfstreams and the Santa Anitas, a second-level allowance race can be a launching pad for future stakes horses. During the winter in Chicago, it is a haven for midlevel claimers and struggling allowance horses who might not be competitive when Arlington rolls around in late spring.

The featured eighth race here Tuesday is a second-level allowance, this one a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Seven horses were entered, and you could call the race competitive, or you could call it confusing. In fact, the seventh looks much like the first, the day's other open allowance race, this one for entry-level 3-year-old sprinters. That race drew only a field of six, indicative of the slow pace of entries here since Friday's opening day card.

The featured "two-other-than" has a last-out graduate of the entry-level allowance condition, Illini Queen, three horses who last raced in mid-level claimers, and a pair of layoff horses who last ran on different circuits. One of them, Silver Fortune, could prove to be the main speed of the race, and she narrowly missed clearing this allowance condition last summer at Prairie Meadows.

The race's other front-runner is Mary Swan, who scratched from a claiming race on Friday in favor of this allowance spot - often a winning strategy in early March. Second of nine Feb. 14 in a Mountaineer conditioned-claiming race, Mary Swan breaks from post 3, and has the speed to make the lead or sit just off Silver Fortune's early pace.

Mary Swan is trained by Larry Rivelli, who also has Lisa's Cat for the first race, a six-furlong entry-level allowance with a $35,000 claiming option. Lisa's Cat, unraced since July, won her debut last spring at Keeneland, and finished fifth in the Grade 3 Debutante at Churchill Downs, but concluded her season by finishing eighth in the Silver Maiden Stakes at Arlington. She has worked three times at Hawthorne for her comeback.

Paddy's Spy does it again

In his 110th race, Paddy's Spy, 10, won the first race here Saturday. It was his ninth win over this track, and he has made more than $370,000 here.

Paddy's Spy has risen as high as Illinois-bred stakes before, but now he is a $10,000 claimer. Saturday, he had nine lengths to make up at the quarter pole, but he chugged down the middle of the track and won by three-quarters of a length.