10/24/2006 11:00PM

There's plenty of speed to run at in feature

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CHICAGO - At about 10 a.m. on Wednesday, there already was a decent amount of early speed entered in Friday's featured eighth race at Hawthorne. By the time the race was drawn later in the day, the speed quotient had been seriously multiplied, thanks to the presence of stretchout sprinter It's Handsome I Am, who drew the widest post and seems sure to make for the early lead under jockey Jerry LaSala.

That means the featured eighth, a second-level allowance carded for 1o1/16 miles on grass, could feature a breakneck pace. General Darby, who drew the rail, has route speed, while The Word Is Out also figures on or near the front. And a fast pace would be just fine with the connections of Drivingmaxandmitzi, who will try to make the jump from starter-allowance races and more recently a $25,000 claimer into open allowance company.

Drivingmaxandmitzi, trained by Tom Proctor, gets some buzz whenever he starts in Chicago, since Denis Savard, once a star player with the Chicago Black Hawks and now an assistant coach for the NHL team, owns Drivingmaxandmitzi.

Fun horse to own, too. Drivingmaxandmitzi has stayed busy throughout the year, first at Tampa and then in Chicago, and has packed seven victories into the season. The gelding didn't show his best when he finished a distant third on soft turf in an Aug. 25 starter allowance at Hawthorne, but he bounced back with a convincing win over $25,000 claimers on Oct. 1 at Hawthorne. Look back into his form, and you'll see Drivingmaxandmitzi won a second-level allowance also open to $32,000 claimers back in May at Tampa. Drivingmaxandmitzi raced for the claiming price that day, thus preserving his allowance condition.

It's Handsome I Am, trained by Wayne Catalano for Frank Calabrese, has the talent to win the Friday feature if LaSala can harness his early speed. Other off-the-pace horses to consider are Otis Ridge and Rotary. A move to the main track - quite possible with rain in the forecast - puts the spotlight on rail-drawn General Darby.

Mountaineer stakes for Star by Design

With the recent retirement of the good Illinois-bred Meadow Bride, trainer Richard Hazelton's stock of stakes horses was beginning to look bare, but Star by Design has shown more than a hint of quality, and is headed into stakes competition next month at Mountaineer Park. A 3-year-old Distorted Humor gelding owned by the Asiel Stable, Star by Design has gotten very good over the last few months, and routed overmatched opposition in a second-level sprint allowance race last Friday at Hawthorne. Star by Design won that race by more than five lengths while never asked for his best, and ran fast enough on a dead track to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

Hazelton trained Star by Design last year at age 2, but Ken McPeek had the horse in Kentucky when Star by Design made it back to the races this past spring. Star by Design lost seven in a row after winning his debut last August at Arlington, but has improved immensely with maturity and the addition of blinkers.

"I thought he was real good as a 2-year-old," said Hazelton, "but he kind of disappointed me after he won his first out."

Hazelton said he was pointing Star by Design to the $75,000 Sophomore Sprint Championship Stakes, a six-furlong 3-year-old stakes on Nov. 21 at Mountaineer.

"Maybe that'll be it for him this year," Hazelton said. "He ought to make a good horse for next year."

Mystery Giver all the way back

Consider 8-year-old Mystery Giver officially back in the game.

It was nice and all when Mystery Giver made it back to the races after suffering a tendon in the 2004 Arlington Million that nearly ended his career. Nice, too, when three races into his comeback, he won a by a nose in a $40,000 claimer in late June at Arlington. But in Wednesday's sixth race at Arlington, Mystery Giver thoroughly trounced a stakes-class field, easily beating

heavily favored Come on Jazz and six others with a sweeping turn move under Carlos Marquez Jr. Largely overlooked in the betting, Mystery Giver paid $18.20 to win.