08/08/2007 11:00PM

Therecomesatiger back on right footing


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Therecomesatiger was supposed to get a litmus test six weeks ago by facing the likes of Remarkable News and Brilliant in a tough renewal of the Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs, but it didn't happen. Therecomesatiger had sore feet that forced him to miss a key workout, so the most recent race on his past performances remains an eye-catching victory in the June 2 Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill.

"His feet went off a little bit," trainer Tom Proctor said Thursday at Arlington Park, where Therecomesatiger will return to action Saturday, facing eight rivals in the $150,000 Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup Mile on the Arlington Million undercard.

"But he's got new shoes," Proctor said. "How's that song go? I got new shoes, and everything's just all right? When his feet are okay, he can run, this horse. He's a decent horse, not a top one, but a decent one."

Actually, Therecomesatiger looks better than decent in the Sea O'Erin lineup. With remarkable consistency, the 5-year-old Florida-bred has reeled off a string of 90-plus Beyer Speed Figures, and off his Opening Verse triumph, he looks like the horse to beat in the about one-mile turf race.

Therecomesatiger, with Jamie Theriot back aboard, will start from post 2. Just to his inside is a highly accomplished turf veteran who looks like a formidable rival: Fort Prado, a 6-year-old gray with earnings of more than $850,000. He is trained by Chris Block.

Other logical contenders include Tiganello, Galtantas, Rapid Proof, and Obi Wan Kenobi.

This will be the 21st running of the Sea O'Erin, which is being run on the Million undercard for the first time. It goes as the fifth of 12 Saturday races and is the first stakes race of the afternoon.

Tale of two de Kock-trained runners

Irridescence, a truly international horse, breezed a half-mile on turf Wednesday morning with trainer Mike de Kock looking on from the Arlington Park apron. But while de Kock and Irridescence are in the U.S. for Saturday's Beverly D., de Kock's potential superstar Asiatic Boy is unlikely to travel to the States this year, de Kock said Wednesday.

Asiatic Boy came back from a four-month layoff to finish a close fourth of eight on Aug. 1 in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, but while Asiatic Boy is stationed in England, he excels on dirt, having won the UAE Derby by more than nine lengths. That fact led to speculation that de Kock and owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa would make a run at the Breeders' Cup Classic with Asiatic Boy. But de Kock said Asiatic Boy, an Argentine-bred who won't reach his fourth birthday until August, would have perhaps one more start in England before being freshened and pointed for the Dubai World Cup.

"I'd love to come, but probably next year, not this year," de Kock said of the Breeders' Cup.

Group 1 winner Irridescence, meanwhile, is poised to start in her sixth country. A 6-year-old mare owned by the Team Valor Stable, Irridescence made her first 11 starts in her native South Africa, but has since raced in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, France, and most recently England, where she was second in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes on July 11.

"She traveled pretty well here, but she's just not very robust, and isn't the ideal horse to travel with," said de Kock.

Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor, also noted that Irridescence can be less than a straightforward horse, especially while being saddled for a race.

"She's a fantastic filly in terms of her talent, but her mind leaves something to be desired," Irwin said.

The greatest challenge with Irridescence, according to both de Kock and Irwin, is getting a rider on her back before a race.

"Race day, parade ring - that's the thing," de Kock said.

Complicating matters Saturday is the fact that Irridescence's regular rider, Weichong Marwing, went home to South Africa and will not be at Arlington. John Murtagh will ride Irridescence for the first time.

"I can just say this," Irwin said. "Johnny Murtagh is in for a challenge."

Imports weaker as dollar declines

No knock against trans-Atlantic shippers Dr. Dino, Danak, or Pressing - especially before we've actually seen how they run in the Million - but on paper, these horses aren't in the same class as recent overseas Million winners such as Powerscourt, Sulamani, and even Silvano. One reason for the decline in apparent quality? Prize money.

With the value of the dollar having declined internationally, a purse increase for the Aug. 21 Juddmonte International Stakes at York makes that 1 1/4-mile race worth about $13,000 more than the Million. For top-class 1 1/4-mile horses in England, Ireland, or France, there is less incentive to leave home than used to be the case.

Lovango dropping in Forward Pass

The father-and-son training team of Hugh and Mac Robertson tried their best 3-year-old, Lovango, three times in a row in turf stakes, getting only modest results. So in light of Lovango fading to eighth in his last start, the July 21 American Derby, the Robertsons have taken a couple of steps back by entering the colt in what figures a far less demanding spot - the $45,000 Forward Pass, race 6 on Saturday.

Garrett Gomez, who rode on the Chicago circuit for several years in the early 1990s, has the call on Lovango, who figures to be a lukewarm favorite over Galloping Home and Happy Humor in a field of 10 3-year-olds in the Forward Pass, a seven-furlong race on Polytrack.

* Kentucky shipper Hot Storm has more than double the earnings of any of her eight rivals in the final stakes of the day, the inaugural running of the $45,000 Nicole's Dream (race 11), but the 5-year-old mare has not raced since going off form four months ago. That throws the about 5 1/2-furlong race wide open, with a handful of rivals appearing capable of pinning a 10th straight loss on Hot Storm, an earner of nearly $840,000. Both halves of the uncoupled Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Yachats and Ready to Talk rank among those worthy opponents.