11/29/2007 12:00AM

Templar's Cup can beat invader

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Chicago, at this point in time, might have a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to Kentucky racing. A second-level allowance race at the recently concluded Churchill Downs meet, for instance, boasted a purse of about $52,000. At Hawthorne, the same race offers a $30,000 pot.

So, when a well-known trainer sends a horse with decent-looking Churchill Downs form to Hawthorne this time of year, the bettors tend to jump, and jump hard. But that's not always the way to go. The most recent example came Nov. 21, when heavily favored Silverinyourpocket finished a nonthreatening fifth in an allowance race here.

Saturday, the focus - betting-wise, at least - of the featured seventh race figures to be Slam My Heart, who ships in from Kentucky for trainer Dale Romans. Slam My Heart finished fifth last time out but was a close third two starts ago at Keeneland, both races having come at the second allowance level, the same class at which Slam My Heart starts Saturday.

The thing is, Slam My Heart has been to Hawthorne before: In the War Emblem Stakes here this past spring, Slam My Heart finished a so-so third in a five-horse field. He may be a better horse now than then - but at the moment he may not be as good as locally based Templar's Cup.

Templar's Cup himself came from Kentucky over the summer, and came as a claiming horse. But after a $14,000 claiming win at Arlington in his first start for trainer Wayne Catalano, Templar's Cup hasn't seen another claiming race. Third in starter-allowance company at Presque Isle Downs, Templar's Cup has come on strong at Hawthorne, winning an entry-level allowance race here Oct. 8 and closing well when second on Nov. 11 in a race at this second-level allowance condition won by another Catalano horse, Ungi Blanc.

"We just liked him from the beginning," Catalano said of Templar's Cup. "He's filled out and really matured."

Templar's Cup, who worked a solid five furlongs between starts, comes from far back and needs pace help up front. Slam My Heart probably won't help in that regard, but Tytus, Batten, and Ashe's Cat should supply enough early speed to set things up for Templar's Cup.

Coach Jimi Lee will head to Gulfstream

Coach Jimi Lee flopped badly at Churchill last month in his first start back from a long layoff caused by a splint-bone injury, but trainer Jim DiVito could find nothing wrong with his star sprinter, and Coach Jimi Lee returned to the work tab this week at Hawthorne.

"I don't know what happened down there," DiVito said. "The horse did that in the Arlington Sprint on me once before. He'd trained awfully good for me, but I don't know. He worked good the other day, too, so hopefully he just threw a clunker in."

Coach Jimi Lee is going to Gulfstream with DiVito, his next start yet to be determined. Ditto for DiVito's good 2-year-old West Coast Coach, who has remained in steady training through the late fall. DiVito said West Coast Coach is possible for a Sunshine Millions race at Gulfstream, as is the 3-year-old Piratesonthelake.

And finally, add another "Coach" horse to the mix. Coach's Little Bro, an unraced 2-year-old half-brother to Coach Jimi Lee, had his third timed workout this week at Hawthorne.

"He's got a long way to go, but he's coming along all right," DiVito said.