07/07/2005 11:00PM

Thinking positive, Janks is positively on fire


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Christine Janks's magical Arlington summer isn't over yet.

Still another horse from the Janks barn, Fifteen Rounds, won a stakes race last weekend at Arlington. Through Thursday, the Janks win total was 18, with 22 more third or better, and a meet-best $470,000 and change in purses.

Mention such facts in many backstretch spots, and you'll get a wince in return. Part of the mass racetrack superstition involves strictly avoiding detailed discussion of success, past or future.

On the other hand, said Janks: "I just don't like to hear anything negative. I believe in the power of positive thinking. My superstitions are much more scientific - like the clothes I wear."

It's not just positive thinking that has gotten Fifteen Rounds this far. He was on the way to being a classic flash in the pan, a horse with brilliant speed scoring early-career blowouts before fading into oblivion. After beginning his career with four straight wins, Fifteen Rounds lost five in a row, and when he finally tasted victory again, it was in a $50,000 claimer last summer. But claiming races have been an important part of the Fifteen Rounds revival. Twice the horse has been in for $50,000, and twice he has won; the victories over lesser competition have helped raise his game.

"I believe in a horse's confidence a lot," Janks said. "If you just get a horse beat, get them beat, all they know is losing. They have to be reminded - some are smarter than others - but horses that have a little bit of brainpower, they know the difference between winning and losing."

Fifteen Rounds now has won three straight, learning to come from off the pace in the process. He beat a sharp Bob Baffert-trained horse named Appalachian Thunder on Sunday in the Better Bee Stakes, running six furlongs in a meet-best 1:08.80. Next up? Not known yet, for Janks is very much a day-by-day trainer.

"We spent a lot of years getting to this point where we can afford to take our time," said Janks.

But the $150,000 Arlington Sprint on Aug. 27 is a possibility. There, Fifteen Rounds could meet Arlington's other top sprinter, Coach Jimi Lee, who is just back from Prairie Meadows, where he won the Iowa Sprint Handicap - worth a sweet $122,000 - for the second straight season.

"To go back there and repeat, that's something special," said trainer Jimmy DiVito, who has done just as well keeping Coach Jimi Lee together as Janks has bringing Fifteen Rounds back around.

"At one point this year, down in Florida, it looked like he was going downhill," DiVito said. "He seems to have come back good now; he's happy and he looks much better."

Coach Jimi Lee is a candidate for the Don Bernhardt Handicap on July 30 at Ellis Park, DiVito said.

Meanwhile, Janks's two excellent Illinois-bred 3-year-olds are on somewhat different tracks. High Expectations, who won the Springfield Stakes on the Prairie State Festival, worked seven furlongs this week, and is possible for the Round Table here next weekend.

"It may be overly ambitious - I don't want to sell the horse short - it's a huge jump, but it's a logical jump," Janks said.

Unbeaten Pretty Jenny, who won the Purple Violet last out, is getting "a little break right now," said Janks. "She had quite a bit of walking right after her race. Coming up this week she'll be getting more serious."

Anegada hopes for clear sailing

Anegada showed signs of being something close to a stakes horse last year, but given the chance to prove it on the racetrack she threw in a clunker, finishing last of 12 in the Grade 3 My Charmer on Dec. 4 at Calder.

Now 4, Anegada has begun climbing back into form this year after a longish winter break, but in her most recent start, she ran into two major obstacles, a high-quality filly named Tisket a Tasket, and traffic trouble in the stretch. In a second-level turf allowance here June 16, Anegada was moving in and among horses on the far turn, and was steered inside for her finish, just as Tisket a Tasket was winding up with a huge run outside and in the clear. While Tisket a Tasket sailed to victory and a date in the Grade 3 Modesty, Anegada was sawed off in the stretch run, and by the time she got going again, it was too late to finish second.

The horse in that spot, Jennie R., returns with Anegada in the Sunday feature, another second-level grass allowance, this one at nine furlongs. Jennie R. acts on both turf and dirt, and is a solid horse in her own right, but Anegada is preferred at the 1 1/8-mile trip, and in her third start back from the break.