07/19/2005 11:00PM

Three stakes to quench thirst

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Bridles with solar-powered fans, air-conditioned saddle-towels - any ideas for how to keep a horse cool this weekend at Arlington?

The three graded turf stakes scheduled here for Saturday were drawn Wednesday. Eight went into the Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington Handicap, eight in the Grade 2, $250,000 American Derby, and 11 in the Grade 3, $150,000 Modesty Handicap - and non-sweaters need not apply.

A briefly cooling rain fell here Wednesday, but a humid heat wave has rolled over this town and is expected to crest Sunday, with temperatures up to the high 90's. The forecast for Saturday is only slightly better, with a high in the mid-90's.

"Well, I can guarantee he'll get hot," trainer Bill Mott said, referring to Gun Salute, who will be among the favorites in the American Derby, the 1 3/16-mile prep for the Grade 1 Secretariat. "How it will effect his performance, that I don't know."

top the American Derby, the second leg of Arlington's loosely linked Mid-America Triple. Purim, yet to be tested in his three starts, easily won the first leg, the July 2 Arlington Classic. Also entered were Exceptional Ride, Cosmic Kris, and a trio of longshots: General Jumbo, Earths Vain Shadow, and Gold Minister.

The Arlington Handicap, the local Arlington Million prep, lost a key contender when the German-based Dayano was declared from the race Tuesday, but the race remains compelling for a Grade 3. Cool Conductor and Vangelis, Grade 2 winners, are the favorites, but French import Artiste Royal and Cloudy's Knight provide substance. Diplomatic Agent, Demeteor, Major Rhythm, and B.A. Way round out the field.

Most of the horses are Midwest-based, but Vangelis was to ship Thursday from California. As for the heat, trainer Bobby Frankel said: "I got no control over that. They all have to run in it."

The Modesty, also at 1 3/16 miles, drew a field of 11, but has less proven talent than the Arlington Handicap. Shaconage, third in the Modesty and eighth in the Beverly D. last year, could be a mild favorite, but is winless in five starts this season. She is one of four Kentucky-based horses coming for the race.