06/28/2001 11:00PM

Stars and Stripes has attracted all kinds

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The ancient and the young, the snakebit and the streaking, the 11 horses entered in Arlington's Stars and Stripes Handicap Sunday form a disparate and intriguing stew.

The 12-furlong Stars and Stripes, with a $200,000-added purse, is a handicapper's feast, a turf race with a large field that brims with contenders. It includes last year's winner, Williams News, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Tom Amoss. Amoss has trained the last two winners of the Stars and Stripes and three of the last five. Lakeshore Road won for him in 1997 (the last running until last year's) and Marastani in 1994.

Williams News, the property of On Target Racing, has run three times this season, including a win in the Grade 3 Elkhorn April 25 at Keeneland. But he finished fifth, beaten almost nine lengths, in his last start, the Louisville Breeders' Cup at Churchill.

"Williams News is the kind of horse where if there's no legitimate pace, his finish is compromised," Amoss said. In the Louisville there was no pace, and Amoss, looking for an explanation, thinks that was the cause of Williams News's flop. "He gets real aggressive when there's a slow pace."

But the pace in the Stars and Stripes, while perhaps not as slow as the Louisville, should hardly be fast, leaving Williams News and jockey Mark Guidry in a potentially vulnerable position.

If not Williams News, than any number of other contenders can win the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes. Even Chorwon, the 8-year-old warrior who is coming back into form for trainer Hal Wiggins, has a chance. Falcon Flight is dropping in class, having last raced against Bienamado, the best turf horse on the West Coast, in the Grade 1 Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood.

But Falcon Flight, while never running poorly, has not managed a win in more than a year.

Profit Option has been a model of consistency and finished second in this race last year. In his last two starts, Profit Option ran second in the Louisville and third in the Grade 2 Hialeah Turf Cup. The knock on him is that he has never won at 12 furlongs.

Trainer Wayne Catalano entered two 4-year-olds, Langston and Ivar's Big Peaceful, with the latter the more interesting of the pair. A $100,000 claim this winter, Ivar's Big Peaceful "has been working like a maniac," Catalano said, most recently breezing a swift four furlongs in 47 seconds around the dogs on the turf here.

Langston has won four of eight races, and comes off an easy allowance win at Hawthorne.

Lonely Place came running behind a slow pace at the end of his last start here for the hot Dick Lundy barn and rates a chance, and the true mystery horse is Hesiode, a French-bred stayer making only his second start in the United States.

Hesiode and Falcon Flight, both owned by Gary Tanaka, are coupled in the wagering, as are Langston and Ivar's Big Peaceful.

The Stars and Stripes goes as race seven on a 10-race program that also features separate-pool wagering on the Hollywood Gold Cup.

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