09/24/2006 11:00PM

Tomillo barn off to blazing start


Tom Tomillo, outfitted with a prosthesis after losing a leg this spring because of diabetes, is ambulatory again, out at the racetrack every day after having to curtail his everyday activity while he recovered from a serious illness that led to the amputation.

"I'm feeling great," Tomillo said early Monday afternoon.

Tomillo's horses, it seems, are feeling even better. After turning in another solid Arlington Park meet, Tomillo is back at the track where his business booms these days - Hawthorne. And after eight days and two weeks of the fall-winter meet, Tomillo has shot to the top of the trainer standings: Through Sunday, his record stood at 39-10-5-6, and no other trainer has won more than four races at the meet.

Last week was especially fruitful for Tomillo's overstocked barn, overseen at the ground level by his longtime assistant, Lalo Rodriguez. Tomillo-trained horses won eight races from 22 starts; on Thursday and Friday, the barn sent out 12 horses and won six races.

"They write more races for the kind of horses I got at Hawthorne," said Tomillo, explaining his early-meet barrage. "I guess the last week or 10 days [at Arlington], we backed off a little on some of them. These horses have been going all year. We came in here and we had a lot that were ready to run. But that's a tough pace to keep up."

Indeed, Tomillo - who had horses entered in six of nine races one day last week - has only two to run on Wednesday. But both Convairman in race 2 and I'm Charismatic in race 5 look suspiciously well-spotted.

One horse who will not be making a start at this meet is Lord of the Game, who just about a year ago came within an eyelash of winning the Hawthorne Gold Cup. Lord of the Game made one more start in 2005, running poorly at Keeneland, and has been out ever since with an injured tendon. Surgery was performed to repair the problem over the summer, and Tomillo said Lord of the Game was at his Hawthorne barn and progressing toward a possible comeback.

"I ultra-sounded him a couple days ago," Tomillo said. "He's about 50-percent healed. In about a month and a half or two months, I'll start him swimming for about 60 days, then start galloping again."

Super Frolic, Magnum not coming

Lord of the Game at his peak would have been a major contender in this year's Grade 2, $500,000 Gold Cup, which now appears to be coming up on the light side following news that neither Southern California horse considered possible for the race will make the trip. The connections of both Super Frolic, who won the 2005 Gold Cup, and Magnum, one of the better California handicappers, said Monday that they were passing on the Gold Cup.

In fact, the Gold Cup this season may be hard-pressed to produce a legitimate contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic, the race for which it is designed to be a prep. Gold Cup entries, however, are not due until Thursday, and weights for the race didn't come out until last Saturday, so the field still could change shape.

Todd Pletcher indicated Monday that he would send A. P. Arrow, one of five horses he nominated to the Gold Cup, from New York to Hawthorne. A. P. Arrow won a second-level allowance race last month at Saratoga, his first start of the year. Other possible starters are Flamethrowintexan, Kid Grindstone, and Papi Chullo.

Rum Ridge looking to rebound

Rum Ridge showed she was a runner late last fall in New York, winning a maiden race and an entry-level allowance by a combined 19 lengths. But Rum Ridge still has something to prove when she starts Wednesday at Hawthorne in the featured eighth race, a second-level sprint allowance for fillies and mares.

After her consecutive open-lengths victories - one on Aqueduct's outer dirt track, the second on the inner-dirt - Rum Ridge finished fifth as the odds-on favorite in a second-level allowance on Jan. 2 at Aqueduct. When she made it back to the races June 30 at Belmont, she ran even worse, finishing last of six. Trained by Tom Albertani for Darley Stable in her first five starts, Rum Ridge has moved into the Mike Stidham barn and will start over again Wednesday on a new circuit.

Stidham regularly wins with layoff horses, and Rum Ridge has worked well over the Hawthorne surface. Still, the racetrack here is deep and demanding, and a horse with sharp recent form, say Miss Ann H, may have an edge on Rum Ridge.

Miss Ann H had a tough trip when she finished third last out at Arlington, and she figures to show speed Wednesday from an outside draw.