10/18/2004 11:00PM

Spanning rested and ready


CHICAGO - The Illinois breeding program lost one of its racing stars this week with the retirement of former Illinois horse of the year . If there is a replacement for her among the many statebreds racing Thursday at Hawthorne, it is not immediately apparent, but some of the horses in a pair of Illinois-bred entry-level allowance races - the co-features on a nine-race program - have shown enough to spark hope.

The fourth race, for 2-year-old fillies, is headed by Spanning, who won her career debut Aug. 19 at Arlington by 12 lengths. She was back 16 days later, and maybe that was a touch too soon, since Spanning was beaten three-quarters of a length as the odds-on favorite in an entry-level statebred-restricted allowance like the one in which she runs Thursday.

This time, has been given time, and she has turned in two good-looking works over the Hawthorne main track. She has leading rider Chris Emigh, and makes her first start under the name of trainer Andy Hansen, though the supposed barn change basically means little. Hansen and Greg Geier have shared responsibilities since the death of trainer Gene Cilio early this year. Geier is headed to Fair Grounds for the winter, while Hansen remains in Chicago and runs the Hawthorne string.

Hansen also has for the eighth, another entry-level allowance, this one for fillies and mares at least 3 years old. Gold Spike hasn't raced since April and is less obvious than Spanning, who figures to be a solid favorite, but she is not without a chance.

The sure-fire favorite in this full field of sprinters will be the last horse into the gate: has post 12, but the early speed to get position before the far turn. Owned by Louie Roussel and trained by Lara Van Deren, she won her career debut Sept. 12 at Arlington, and 18 days later finished second of 11 at Hawthorne in her first start against winners.

* Emanuel Cosme got off to a strong start at the Hawthorne meet as an apprentice jockey. Now we will see what he can do as a journeyman, since Cosme lost his apprentice allowance on Tuesday. Through last weekend, Cosme was tied for fourth in the rider standings with 14 wins, many of them for trainer Tom Tomillo. Cosme has five mounts on Thursday.

* Apt to Be, prepping for a possible start in the Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill, worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:14.60 on Monday.