07/05/2001 12:00AM

Stall: Bright Valour 'sharp as a tack'


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Bright Valour won the Grade 3 Hanshin Handicap last year, long after the race had ended. On the track, Yankee Victor beat him by almost four lengths, but when post-race laboratory tests turned up an illegal drug positive in Yankee Victor, his number came down and Bright Valour's went up.

At this time last year, Yankee Victor was perhaps the best dirt miler in the country, but the Hanshin this year, with a field of 10, has attracted no such standout. Bright Valour can win on his own merits.

Globalize, a Grade 2 winner, will be perceived as the horse to beat Saturday in the one-mile, $100,000 Hanshin, formerly known as the Equipoise Mile. In an overnight handicap here June 13 Globalize returned from a year-long layoff - necessitated by a series of minor injuries, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said - and finished an even fourth. His trip was not the cleanest that day, and Globalize figured to have cobwebs, but he did not run well enough, nor was his form so superior before his time off, that he is a slam dunk Saturday.

"If he can win a Grade 3 after a year layoff and with one even prep, more power to him," said Al Stall, Bright Valour's trainer. "We're sharp as a tack."

A 5-year-old Wild Again horse owned by Lazy Lane Farms, Bright Valour has won 7 of 14 starts in a career marred by layoffs. Even when he was racing regularly last summer, the horse was suffering from a chronic quarter crack that Stall said he finally let grow out over the winter.

"Actually, I think we have a better horse this year," said Stall. "He runs dead straight right now, and that wasn't always the case."

In his second start this year, Bright Valour finished third May 5 in a tough Churchill sprint allowance race, then won his most recent start there, also a sprint allowance, but one that featured an easier field.

Stretching out to a one-turn mile should present no problem. "Anything at one turn is pretty good for him," Stall said.

Robby Albarado, who will shift his tack here next week, rides Bright Valour. Ray Sibille, who was aboard for Globalize's last start, has a return call on the likely favorite.

There appears to be plenty of speed lined up for the Hanshin. Fan the Flame, who won a minor stakes here last year, recent Illinois-bred stakes winner Tic N Tin, and Rocky Robyn should all contest the pace.

The talented Apt to Be, unproven in stakes company, millionaire Nite Dreamer, and Kombat Kay also have varying degrees of speed. A'fire, Miners Gamble, and Castlewood complete the field.