06/21/2007 11:00PM

Time Squared a no-go on short rest


CHICAGO - Bettors looking to play against Time Squared in the Native Dancer, an overnight stakes race on Sunday at Arlington Park, can shelve those plans for now. Though Time Squared probably would have been favored in the Native Dancer, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race for 3-year-olds, he always was a longshot to actually run in the race.

Time Squared, a Polytrack allowance winner here last month, started just last Saturday, finishing ninth in the Colonial Turf Cup. Told the Native Dancer was coming up with a short field, trainer Patrick Biancone agreed to enter on Thursday, but after evaluating Time Squared on Friday, Biancone decided discretion was the better part of valor.

"I thought we'd give it a day and see, but he's not well enough to go," Biancone said.

There are, however, six other 3-year-olds in the Native Dancer, and the race is interesting enough. Native Tongue has to be considered an outsider based on sixth-place finishes in his last two starts, and while Grecoroman is on the way to being a very useful Illinois-bred, he is not likely to defeat all four of the best-looking horses Saturday.

That quartet includes Snowblind Friend, Biglie Smallworld, Galloping Home, and - most notably - Harrow Land.

Harrow Land whistled through the first six starts of his career with 3 wins, 2 fourths, and 1 second, and he had a strong Oaklawn meet, winning a pair of allowance races before finishing a close, troubled second in the $99,000 Northern Spur. But a trip to Texas for the Lone Star Derby turned into an unmitigated disaster, as Harrow Land caught a muddy racing surface he apparently despised.

"I loved him going into Lone Star, but he was just struggling with that track," said trainer Tony Reinstedler. Jockey Eddie Razo "just eased him up, but he came out of the race fine."

Harrow Land is based at Churchill Downs, and has posted a pair of solid-looking works since his Texas trip, but Reinstedler said he was "looking forward" to a trip to Arlington and Harrow Land's second start on Polytrack. Last winter, he blew out a field of Turfway maidens over Polytrack.

Cosmonaut eyes Arlington Million

Biancone, meanwhile, said that Cosmonaut would return to Arlington July 19 to try and win his second straight Arlington Handicap. Cosmonaut's connections also have designs on a return trip to the Arlington Million, in which Cosmonaut finished a close fifth last year.

Cosmonaut finished second in the Dixie Stakes on the Preakness undercard, an amazing performance considering he basically had to hurdle a fallen rival at about the half-mile pole. In the June 9 Manhattan Handicap, Cosmonaut galloped along on a slow pace, made a clear lead in the stretch, but could do no better than fourth. In fact, Cosmonaut has finished fourth or fifth in all six of his Grade 1 starts. He did win the Arlington Handicap last year by comfortable margin, however.

"He's very well now," Biancone said. "We'll freshen him up a little bit before the next start."

General Sherman in command

More than 2 1/2 years passed between General Sherman's purchase as a yearling and his first appearance in a race, but the horse might have been worth the wait.

General Sherman - a turf route horse through and through - rallied from last place to win his career debut on May 24, and on Thursday, facing other winners for the first time, he rallied from last place to capture an entry-level allowance race.

That was no easy win, either. James Graham moved General Sherman before the three-eighths pole, and the horse was rolling while very wide around the turn. Then, he had to gather himself a second time and outgame a Todd Pletcher-trained favorite named Sweet Brush. But General Sherman got the job done, winning by a head.

"We never worked him particularly fast, but to be around him, he gives you the feeling that he's an above-average type of horse," said his trainer, David Hanley.

And who is David Hanley? An Irishman who trained at the Curragh before shipping Stateside five years ago. Hanley had a short string of horses at Keeneland several years back, and after a brief hiatus, he is back training for a partnership called Hurricane Hall. Hanley works off a training center near Lexington, Ky., that has a one-mile Polytrack and room for 60 horses. Those in serious training often ship to Keeneland to breeze, as General Sherman did before coming to Arlington.

Hurricane Hall purchased General Sherman at the Saratoga yearling sale, and the horse's hormones became a serious impediment to his career.

"He was very tough to be around," Hanley said. "He was studdish around other horses - just had a mind of his own. We delayed gelding him for a long time, but finally we did this year, and that's been the difference."

General Sherman was nominated to the Stars and Stripes Handicap on July 4, but Hanley said that race might come up too soon, and that he also was considering the Arlington Handicap.

* Leaders in the Illinois legislature and Gov. Rod Blagojevich are forming a temporary budget that will allow the state government to function through July 31. The stopgap measure will keep the government from shutting down July 1 because of a budget impasse in the ongoing legislative session, but the measure could delay any resolution concerning gaming expansion. Racing interests have been included in most proposals to expand gaming as a means of supplying revenue to support state-funded programs.