03/01/2006 12:00AM

Tally Up steps into spotlight for Williamson


STICKNEY, Ill. - When Last Gran Standing recently went down with an injury, it deprived trainer Brian Williamson of one of the more promising Illinois-bred 3-year-olds. But the way Tally Up looked winning an open entry-level allowance race on Tuesday at Hawthorne, Williamson might have an adequate replacement.

Tally Up finished fifth - about four lengths behind second-place Last Gran Standing - in the Jim Edgar Futurity, his final start last season, but he was second to none in Tuesday's eighth race. Tally Up bounced straight to the lead under Chris Emigh and set a fast two-turn half-mile time of 47.80 seconds, but still blew away his competition in the stretch, drawing away to win by more than eight lengths. His time of 1:44 for one mile and 70 yards on a moderately slow-playing racetrack was strong for an early-season 3-year-old.

"To me, the track may have helped him, but even if he lays a little further back, he still wins," said Williamson. "I thought he ran a great race."

The track did help most horses who made the lead and got to the rail during the first week of racing here at the National Jockey Club meet. Tally Up was part of a parade of front-end winners on Monday and Tuesday, and the track surface was at least moderately biased Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There has been little rain or snow this winter, and there is a general consensus that the surface needs more moisture than the track maintenance crew can realistically add to it.

"I think it's the way it is because of the weather," Williamson said. "It's been borderline cold to where they can't get a lot of water on it. I think we need it to warm up and rain a lot in order for it to change."

But Williamson had the right horses for the Hawthorne surface, and his four wins from eight week-one starters were good for a tie with Tom Tomillo atop the trainer standings. Williamson's success also helped along Emigh, who won a meet-leading 10 races last week.

As for Tally Up, Williamson isn't sure what's next. There's an Illinois-bred sprint stakes later this meet, but Williamson said he is inclined to keep Tally Up in route races.

"We have to see what comes up," he said. "Worse comes to worst, I could run him in a two-other-than for Illinois-breds."

With his barn on top, Tomillo has ankle on mend

While Tomillo's stable had a strong opening week here, Tomillo the man struggled. In Florida with his string at Gulfstream Park, Tomillo broke his ankle and still was in the hospital as of Wednesday.

"I just stumbled and it came up broken," said Tomillo, who had serious health issues two seasons ago. "Couple more days and I should be out of the hospital."

Tomillo's full barn at Hawthorne is being overseen by his longtime assistant Lalo Rodriguez, and the stable was both busy and successful last week. Rodriguez saddled 28 horses, more than twice as many as the next highest first-week total, and though the Tomillo horses won four times, Rodriguez pointed to the six place finishes and six shows with some degree of disappointment.

"We should've won eight," he said.

Fort Prado to stay on the road

Fort Prado turned in one of his best performances, impressively winning the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup on Saturday, and his trainer, Chris Block, doesn't want to tamper with success at the moment. So rather than bring Fort Prado north to his main string at Hawthorne, Block will leave Fort Prado stabled at the Block family's farm near Ocala, Fla., and point for one of two upcoming stakes race: the Connally Breeders' Cup at Sam Houston or the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland.

The Maker's Mark is a higher-profile race that figures to attract a tougher field, but Block said he is leaning toward that spot. The Illinois-bred Fort Prado - a winner in 10 of 23 career starts - has won two straight open stakes and has truly come into his own at age 5.

"I think he's earned a shot in a race like the Maker's Mark," said Block, who added that Fort Prado had come out of Saturday's race in good physical condition.

Fifteen Rounds needs more work

Fifteen Rounds, the best sprinter in Chicago last year, turned in a bullet half-mile work here Friday but is not yet prepared to make his 2006 debut, trainer Christine Janks said.

"He's not quite ready yet, and we don't have any place picked out," said Janks, who has not yet come north from her winter quarters in Florida. "He did fine here this winter."

Fifteen Rounds won five times in 2005, his most important win a game victory in the Arlington Sprint Handicap, and was part of a strong core group that helped Janks to an excellent season.

Several other stakes-class horses have not yet left Florida, with Sunset Kisses and perhaps Nkosi Reigns slated to make their 2006 debuts in upcoming Tampa Bay stakes races. The top-level Illinois-breds Pretty Jenny and High Expectations also have been breezing at a training center, and should soon ship north, Janks said.

* Friday's seventh-race feature is an entry-level sprint allowance, and if the golden rail remains in place, Conquistador's Cat - probably the speed of the speed - is going to be difficult to catch.