06/20/2006 11:00PM

Strong showing for statebred stakes day

Jack Coady / Coady Photography
Fort Prado wins the Connally Cup under Robby Albarado, who will be aboard on Saturday.

CHICAGO - The annual foal crop of Thorougbred horses in Illinois has been going down every year, but one wouldn't know it judging by entries taken Wednesday for Arlington's Prairie State Festival on Saturday. The six Illinois-bred stakes races on Saturday drew a total of 65 entries, even though one of them, the Isaac Murphy, got just seven horses.

Even the Isaac Murphy, with a showdown looming between Bluesbdancing and Pretty Jenny, is an interesting enough race, and though the theme of the day may be quantity, there is quality to this year's Prairie State card, too: Fort Prado, a multiple graded-stakes winner, heads the Black Tie Affair for older horses on turf, and Original Spin, winner of the Arlington-Washington Lassie late last summer at Arlington and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, leads a strong edition of the Purple Violet for 3-year-old fillies.

Fort Prado wasn't confirmed as a starter until Sunday, when weights for the Black Tie Affair came out and Fort Prado's 124-pound assignment was deemed fair by his connections. And Original Spin didn't cement her position in the Purple Violet until Wednesday morning, when trainer Tony Mitchell was certain that she had come back well from a robust Monday workout.

"So far, so good," Mitchell said Wednesday. "She came out of her work real well; she wanted to kill people today."

A strong showing Saturday would help erase the bitter memory of Original Spin's only start this year, a last-place finish March 5 in the Forward Gal at Gulfstream. "She's going to go out there and redeem herself," Mitchell said.

Original Spin drew the outside post in the 11-horse Purple Violet, but a wide draw is acceptable in one-turn miles at Arlington. Fort Prado, meanwhile, breaks from post 7 in the Black Tie Affair, the day's last stakes race, and starts right next to his main rival, Scooter Roach. Robby Albarado is in from Kentucky to ride Fort Prado.

Hard to keep Janks's good ones separated

Christine Janks already has dominated stakes racing this meet at Arlington, and has as good a chance as any trainer to win multiple stakes races on Saturday. The trick for Janks is to decide which horses to start in which race.

"When someone figures it out, let me know," Janks said Wednesday.

Janks has horses for four different stakes Saturday. Pretty Jenny is her lone entrant in the six-furlong Isaac Murphy, which means Modjadji, who could also have gone in that race, will start in the Lincoln Heritage at two turns on turf. Of course, Janks also has Ms. Lydonia for the Lincoln Heritage, and said she fears Modjadji could wind up beating out Ms. Lydonia.

"I hate running her there," she said of Modjadji, "because I think Lydonia has a shot."

Both horses worked fast half-miles Wednesday morning; Modjadji was timed in a blazing 45.20 seconds.

"Lydonia went in 47, which is about two seconds faster than she'd usually go, so that's how I'm looking at Modjadji's work," Janks said. "We weren't asking her - she just went on her own."

And then there is the case of High Expectations, who was cross-entered in the Black Tie Affair at two turns on turf and the White Oak at six furlongs on dirt. Janks also entered Big Rushlet in the White Oak in case High Expectations winds up in the Black Tie Affair. Janks said she's eager to try High Expectations on grass, but owner Steve Holland prefers the White Oak.

In any case, it is a dizzying set of possibilities, but a problem that any trainer would like to have.

"You know, I've had better horses than this before, but never this many at the same time," said Janks.

Emigh suffers concussion in spill

Chris Emigh, runaway leading jockey at Arlington, appeared to escape serious injury but was taken to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., after going down in the third race on Wednesday. Emigh was thrown hard to the dirt when his mount, Seadrift, either stumbled or clipped heels going into the far turn in a sprint race.

"He has a mild concussion is all I know right now," Emigh's agent, Jay Fedor, said late Wednesday afternoon. "He's got a little shoulder pain, just muscle pain, but Chris doesn't think anything's broken. Right now at this point, it looks like he's lucky. He's moving around, he's got mobility."

* The featured eighth race Friday, for 3-year-old entry-level allowance horses or $50,000 claimers at about one mile on turf, drew a full field of 12, with another horse, Slick City Nites, entered main-track-only. On turf, Happy Birthday rates a solid chance if jockey Jesse Campbell can find a way home from post 12.