06/12/2008 12:00AM

Tom Archdeacon tries to build on last


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - For every horse who shows potential and goes on to be a regular stakes runner, there are countless others who never follow through on an early display of natural talent. And it is starting to get late for a colt named Tom Archdeacon.

Tom Archdeacon is 4, and two summers ago he turned in a pair of sharp maiden races over the Arlington grass course. Last summer, Tom Archdeacon cleared the maiden ranks in his seasonal debut, and two starts later was a prompt winner of the Awad Stakes. Then, Tom Archdeacon finished eighth in the Arlington Classic, his first major test, wasn't seen again until the fall, and went back on the shelf after two subpar performances.

But May 17, there came Tom Archdeacon again, finishing strongly for a close second in a second-level turf allowance race here. For lack of an option at the second allowance level, trainer Austin Smith entered Tom Archdeacon in a third-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles of turf, the featured seventh race on Saturday's Arlington program. He is one of seven horses in the main body of the field, with three more horses entered for the main track only.

Tom Archdeacon also has been entered in Saturday's $50,000 Sydney Gendleman Memorial at River Downs.

Smith, an Ohioan who has been a regular in Chicago the last couple years, is having an excellent Arlington meet: Thursday, he won his fifth race from only 14 starters, with four others having been second and third. Smith conceded that Tom Archdeacon's stop-and-start career has been frustrating and pointed to tender feet as the culprit.

"He came out of the Arlington Classic with a chip in his hind ankle, and since he seemed like a good horse, we went ahead, took it out, and gave him some time," Smith said. "Then, when he was getting ready to run again, he got a quarter crack and that set him back."

While Tom Archdeacon is racing above his natural allowance condition, he does not appear to be overmatched - unless the aging one-time stakes horse Tiganello comes back to the races firing. A 7-year-old gelding trained by Todd Pletcher, Tiganello was a Grade 3 type on his best a couple years ago, but has not raced since September and makes his comeback Saturday under the feature's $62,500 claiming option.

Another one-time stakes horse, Spider Power, also merits attention. Tenth last out in the Louisville Handicap, Spider Power makes his second start since being claimed for $80,000 by Cardinal Stables and trainer Tom Amoss.