05/03/2006 11:00PM

Sprinting 'Fifteen' gives mile a spin


The 2006 race meet had not even started, and the new Arlington Park racing secretary, Kevin Greely, already was working overtime Wednesday night. A dearth of entries for the Saturday program caused the entry box to stay open past 8 p.m., a time of day when many horsemen start to get very yawny.

Even with the racing office's diligent efforts, just 57 horses were entered on the nine-race program, an average of about 6.3 per race. But making it onto the card was the $40,000 Timeless Native, an overnight stakes race at one mile on dirt, and making it into the Timeless Native were a couple of Arlington's best horses of 2005, Fifteen Rounds and Straight Line. But questions come attached to both of them.

For , a brilliant sprinter, the question is one of distance. Fifteen Rounds comes into this spot 13 for 23 lifetime and 7 for 10 at Arlington, and his fifth-place finish last out in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland was in part a function of a less-than-ideal trip. Even at seven furlongs, Fifteen Rounds would be a solid choice to win the Timeless Native, but in that extra furlong lies the great unknown.

"A mile out of the chute would be the longest I would ever think of with him, and I really do think it's too far for him, but we'll try it," said trainer Christine Janks. "He's rating better and laying back better - but that still doesn't make him a route horse."

won the Grade 3 Ack Ack at Churchill last fall before a poor showing in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, but his 2006 debut was dismal: an 11th-place finish in the Commonwealth. Straight Line is only 4, and he has a good chance to round back into form later this summer, but it is hard to like him Saturday off his only start this season.

The horse for the moment might be - if he runs. Trainer Mike Campbell said he was cross-entering No Tolerance in Sunday's Avers Wexler Stakes and might choose that spot if No Tolerance looked like the lone speed. No Tolerance has won 4 of his last 8 starts and was beaten a nose last out in a Hawthorne allowance just days after traveling by van from Oaklawn Park.

"He ran his guts out the other day," Campbell said. "I shipped him from Oaklawn a few days prior to the race, and any time you ship a horse 750 miles you're at somewhat of a disadvantage no matter how carefully you do it."