12/01/2005 12:00AM

Stormy Impact appears least flawed


CHICAGO - The featured third race on Saturday at Hawthorne is for high-end allowance horses with a $100,000 claiming option. But as for options, are there any truly good ones in this inscrutable race?

It's not that the horses aren't talented enough; there are some pretty good ones. No Tolerance, the only horse entered for the $100,000 tag, won two consecutive races here earlier this meet. Stormy Impact is a multiple stakes winner. Beabasque has put together an excellent year racing mainly at downstate Fairmount Park, and the other four in the race have had their moments, too.

But this is one of those races in which every positive characteristic seems to be canceled out by a negative.

Attack the Books, who has post 1, exits a closing fourth in a strong five-furlong allowance here Nov. 6. He should improve off the effort, and stretching out from the five furlongs of that last trip is a good thing, too. But this may be too much of a stretch. On dirt at least, Attack the Books historically has done better in one-turn miles than two-turn routes like Saturday's race. And he is winless this season.

No Tolerance won by more than five in a third-level Hawthorne allowance Oct. 8, and three weeks later he stepped up the class ladder and beat the gritty horse Bodgiteer by a nose. No Tolerance flopped in the Schaefer Mile Nov. 19 at Hoosier, but that doesn't disqualify him. The problem is that No Tolerance won both his races this fall from the front end, and he figures to be sent to the lead from an inside draw. But there, No Tolerance will find company, certainly from the speedy Beabasque, and probably from Big Glori, too.

Pushed all the way, can No Tolerance produce his best? And won't a contested pace also take the starch out of Beabasque, a good third in the Illinois-bred restricted High Alexander Stakes here last month?

Slew Slayer is a stalker, Lacer more a closer. But both are grass horses. Slew Slayer has managed a third from four main-track starts, Lacer a pair of seconds and thirds in 11 dirt races. Right running styles, wrong surface.

All of which leads circuitously back to Stormy Impact, who with almost $400,000 in career earnings is pretty much the class of the race. Stormy Impact was fourth in the Schaefer Mile, but was beaten more than 18 lengths, and two starts ago he finished 11th of 12 in the Turfway Park Fall Championship. Both races were on track surfaces some horses don't care for, and Stormy Impact has 4 wins and 4 seconds from 11 Hawthorne starts. His flaws may be the least compromising.