09/26/2007 11:00PM

Student Council tries encore performance

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Randy Morse, Jonesboro's trainer, could easily have been speaking for more than himself when he discussed his participation in Saturday's Hawthorne Gold Cup.

"When Street Sense didn't come, it seemed like it was coming up fairly light for that kind of a race," Morse said.

The Gold Cup, signature race of the Hawthorne meet, is a Grade 2 with a purse of $500,000 - but that doesn't mean as much anymore, and Morse is right. Just six horses were entered, and only three - Jonesboro included - have won even a minor graded stakes. The obvious exception is Student Council, who could punch his ticket to the Breeders' Cup Classic with a validation of his 23-1 victory six weeks ago in the $1 million Pacific Classic.

The Gold Cup goes as race 10 on an 11-race card that has the Grade 3 Carey and the $100,000 Indian Maid - both turf races - as supporting stakes. The Carey, race 8, begins a $50,000-guaranteed pick four that includes the three stakes.

Before Aug. 19, Student Council's form looked a lot like that of A. P. Arrow, who finished second in this race last year, and Jonesboro, who won the Grade 3 Essex this past winter at Oaklawn. But just a couple weeks after Ro Parra purchased him privately in New York, Student Council made a wide, sustained move at Del Mar and won the Gradeo1 Pacific Classic by a half-length.

What to make of that? The Pacific Classic was the poster child for Del Mar's quirky new Polytrack; Student Council's winning 1 1/4-mile time was a glacial 2:07 and change, and good horses like Lava Man ran poorly.

Student Council might have performed just as well finishing second in a Churchill Downs dirt allowance race his previous start, since Brass Hat set a track record winning that day and came back to capture the Mass Cap.

"I think first of all he's as good on dirt as he is on Poly," said Parra, who has engaged Richard Migliore to ride Student Council for the second straight time, but has turned the horse over from trainer Vladimir Cerin to Steve Asmussen. "We're not concerned about the surface."

Hawthorne's deep dirt track was crushing speed opening week, but pace horses did better this Wednesday and Thursday - good news for Jonesboro, who is likely to be on the lead. Jonesboro has run big races on occasion, and Morse believes a recent equipment change - blinkers off - will help Jonesboro, who has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles.

"Truthfully, I've always wanted to run him a mile and a quarter," Morse said.

One-paced A. P. Arrow handles 1o1/4 miles, and finished eight lengths clear of third when he ran second to It's No Joke here last year. Of the three other horses, Extreme Supreme looks more interesting than Miami Sunrise and Wayzata Bay. Extreme Supreme, a 4-year-old, makes his stakes debut after winning a 1 1/8-mile Saratoga allowance race Aug. 23.

"He's a great big horse, 17 hands," said trainer John Ward. "A mile and a quarter will help him, and if that racetrack is a little on the slower side, that will help him, too."