05/31/2007 11:00PM

Tiganello beatable as favorite in Mister Gus


CHICAGO - Arlington Park's early season goes light on graded stakes, feeding fans a steady diet of $45,000 overnight stakes that recently have attracted good-sized fields of actual stakes-class performers. But while Sunday's Mister Gus, a one-mile turf race, has some talent, it drew the shortest field - just six horses - among recent overnight offerings.

And this is an eclectic sextet. Prosico, a winner in half his eight races, never has raced on grass, and though 14-time winner Fifteen Rounds has, he has never run in a race around two turns.

Come on Jazz makes his first start since November, and is prepping for the 1 1/2-mile Stars and Stripes Handicap next month. Tiganello has mixed good and bad in nine starts dating to April 2006 after being imported from France. And Rapid Proof appears to be in the midst of his second annual Arlington grass-course revival.

Prosico and Fifteen Rounds probably would benefit by a move from turf to Polytrack, and with rain in the forecast that could happen. On turf, Tiganello, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Rene Douglas, probably will be favored but is hardly invulnerable.

Tiganello looked good winning a high-end allowance race last summer at Saratoga, but his two subsequent performances were decidedly inferior, and the same thing happened this year. On the heels of a sixth in the Appleton Handicap and a fifth in a Keeneland allowance, Tiganello has worked three times at Arlington, and perhaps he will bounce back now.

Come on Jazz missed winning the 2006 Stars and Stripes by a head last July, but exiting the gap from the turf course to the main track after pulling up, he snagged a fence and was badly cut on the shoulder. Come on Jazz needed a couple months to recover, and finished third, beaten less than a length, in the Grade 3 Carey Memorial at Hawthorne, a race pertinent to Sunday's because it also was contested over a mile.

"He's fit," said trainer Brian Williamson. "I figured this mile might be too short for him, but at least I get a race into him, and I didn't want to run him in that mile and a half [overnight stakes] next week right off the bat. But he's going great, training super."

Rapid Proof, graded-stakes class in 2005, reversed a decline with a good Arlington turf campaign last summer, and on May 19, making just his second start in six months, he won an optional claiming race.

Coach Jimi Lee to True North?

Jim DiVito is tempted to send Coach Jimi Lee to Belmont for the True North Handicap next weekend in New York, but worries that the True North follows too closely on the heels of Coach Jimi Lee's win on May 19 in the Waterford Park Handicap at Mountaineer Race Track, the 7-year-old gelding's first start in 2007.

Another option for Coach Jimi Lee is the Iowa Sprint Handicap June 30 at Prairie Meadows, a race Coach Jimi Lee has won three years in a row.

Asked about the True North, DiVito said that it's "a possibility, but I just don't know yet."

"Another week, or even better 10 days, and it would be better," he said. "It's a little closer between races than I want to run him."

DiVito said he'll make a final call on the True North after Coach Jimi Lee breezes Tuesday. He would ship from Arlington by van.

Coach Jimi Lee is closing in on $1omillion in career earnings, and has had a pretty remarkable career. He owns the Illinois state record for six furlongs, and has won 16 races while starting at 14 different racetracks. Belmont would be his 15th.

DiVito also is high on Pirate Saint, a talented 3-year-old who apparently can run on anything. Pirate Saint won dirt sprints last year, and this spring captured an allowance sprint at Hawthorne and the Shecky Greene at Arlington, a Polytrack sprint stakes on opening day. On Monday he closed fast to finish second in the Awad Stakes, a two-turn turf race.

"That horse is really impressing me," DiVito said.

DiVito said Pirate Saint might start next in the June 23 Arlington Classic, another turf route.

* Williamson and the Russell Reineman Stable appear to have a player for Illinois-bred sprint stakes this year in Last Gran Standing, a 4-year-old Distorted Humor gelding who came back from a year-plus layoff this spring at Hawthorne, and won well in open allowance company last Friday. Williamson said he planned to prep Last Gran Standing for the White Oak Handicap on the Prairie State Festival for Illinois-breds in an overnight stakes race later this month.