11/09/2007 1:00AM

Southern migration begins

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - With two powerhouse winners here on Thursday, the horses trained by Dale Bennett are heating up at Hawthorne. They're also on the way out. Bennett said he is shipping all but perhaps one of his 28 horses to winter quarters at Tampa Bay Downs this weekend, part of the ongoing annual winter exodus that will deplete the local horse population.

Horsemen going to Tampa Bay Downs will soon be shipping out, as will those headed to Fair Grounds, which starts on Thanksgiving. Gulfstream Park stables, as well as those going to Oaklawn, depart later in the year. It's nothing new, and Hawthorne copes with the shifting equine population, but the migration does deprive Hawthorne of much of its higher-quality stock - such horses as Too Many Sins.

Too Many Sins was the second Bennett winner Thursday - Forest Fever won a conditioned claimer in race 3 - and looked like an absolute runner capturing a maiden route race by seven lengths. A strong, closing second here in his career debut, Too Many Sins tracked a modest pace Thursday, took the lead in upper stretch, and came to the wire with jockey Carlos Montalvo doing less than nothing in the saddle. His winning time of 1:46.89 for mile and 70 yards won't look like much, but the Hawthorne dirt was extremely demanding Thursday, and Too Many Sins ran plenty fast given the conditions.

This is the time of year when wealthy people start making crazy offers for good-looking 2-year-olds, and owner Marc Goldish may soon be faced with a keep-or-sell dilemma. A son of Repent, Too Many Sins has the body type of a true route horse, and a professional demeanor to go with it, Bennett said. Too Many Sins will make his next start at Tampa Bay Downs, said Bennett, who is convinced he has a stakes horse on his hands.

Too Many Sins was favored to win, but last Friday, Bennett sent out a bomber to win another maiden race. Unfolding Wish, a first-timer owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Farm, won a maiden sprint by more than eight lengths, and paid $62 in so doing.

"I don't know what was going on there," Bennett said. "My horses aren't usually that kind of price."

Unfolding Wish benefited from making the lead along the rail on a track that promoted inside speed, a fact not lost on Bennett. Still, Unfolding Wish is at least decent - and not likely to offer that sort of price again any time soon.

Fort Prado getting a breather

Fort Prado is getting some time off following his third-place finish last weekend in the Cherokee Run Stakes at Churchill, but this will be more a breather than a break.

Trainer Chris Block said Fort Prado has been shipped to the Block family farm near Ocala, Fla., and will stay there about 30 days before shipping into the Fair Grounds barn of trainer Jeff Trosclair, with whom Fort Prado has wintered the last two years. But rather than point for turf route races after the first of the year, Fort Prado will remain in turf sprints, and start in the Dec. 22 Bonapaw Stakes over 5o1/2 furlongs. Fort Prado had won two straight short grass races, including the $112,000 Woodford at Keeneland, before finishing behind Smart Enough - probably the best turf sprinter in the country - and Chihulykee last out at Churchill.

Meanwhile, Block wasted no time returning an old friend to his shed row. Apt to Be, a 10-year-old graded stakes winner with 56 career starts, was claimed from Block and owner Dick Duchossois for $25,000 at the end of the Arlington meet, but Block took him back for the same price on Oct. 16 at Keeneland.

"We wanted to make sure that regardless, he had a proper home," Block said. "He's been really good to us, and we wanted to do the same thing for him."

Block said it was uncertain if Apt to Be would race again in 2008. "At the beginning of the year, we'll see if he wants to go another year or not," he said.

Beware of Tytus on Sunday

The trainer Jamie Ness won yet another race with a horse making his first start after being claimed when Seventeen Above captured the opener here on Friday. Ness is close to a 45 percent trainer with horses running back after a claim. That alone is reason to look hard at Tytus in the featured first race here Sunday, but Tytus has another major selling point, too.

When he won a $25,000 claimer here Oct. 27, Tytus went straight to the front and never looked back, and with post 1 and - on paper, at least - the best speed in this second-level route allowance, an identical trip could be in the offing. There are only six others in the race, and among them, only outside-drawn Silver Legacy appears capable of putting any sort of early pressure on Tytus, provided he breaks alertly.

If Tytus bounces off his last-start victory, however, the race gets thrown wide open. Rector, back from a short layoff, would have a shot, as might either of the Wayne Catalano-trained horses in the race, Ungi Blanc and Templar's Cup.

* Local stalwart Uriel Lopez, out of action since a mid-summer spill at Arlington, has finally joined the Hawthorne jockey colony, and won his first race of the meet when Bumpingrindstone won Thursday's ninth race by a head.