11/11/2004 12:00AM

Top two fail to scare 'em off

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Four-Footed Fotos
Scooter Roach (left) and Wiggins, one-two in the Milwaukee Avenue in April, meet again Saturday.

STICKNEY, Ill. - The High Alexander Handicap was shaping up as something close to a two-horse race. It might still be, but Scooter Roach and Wiggins have plenty of horseflesh to dodge.

When the smoke cleared late Thursday morning, 12 horses had been entered in the High Alexander, the last and best of six $100,000-added Illinois-bred stakes races Saturday at Hawthorne Race Course. The stakes sequence starts in the fourth race with the Powerless Handicap, the weakest of the stakes races, but things build from there.

Wiggins will try to repeat in the High Alexander, but he and jockey Eddie Razo will need to work out a trip from post 10.

"I don't think it's that bad, depending on how the race shapes up," said trainer Tony Granitz. "I was kind of surprised the race got 12. I guess people want to run."

For lack of local spots, has made his last three starts at Mountaineer Park, finishing first and second in open stakes races there, and winning his allowance prep for the High Alexander. The 4-year-old Wiggins isn't flashy, but he has been rock solid with 10 wins, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds from 19 career starts.

"I think he's better this year than last year," Granitz said. "He's really on top of his game."

So is , who was second to Wiggins in this race last year, and beat him in the Milwaukee Avenue in the spring. Scooter Roach upset the Grade 3 Carey Handicap on the Hawthorne turf course Oct. 9, but he is equally at home on dirt.

Dave Kassen has been training Scooter Roach at Churchill, but when the horse travels here Friday, it will be like coming home. Scooter Roach has made all 37 of his career starts in Chicago, and he might have a particular fondness for the Hawthorne main track.

"He seems to like Hawthorne," Kassen said. "Maybe that's his place. We look for him to run good up there."

Scooter Roach has post 2 and will be coming from behind, while Wiggins ought to lay much closer to the pace, of which there is little. Colorful Tour and stretchout sprinter Bold Caller could wind up on the lead, tracked by Wiggins and Persuaggle, an upset candidate. A month ago, Persuaggle powerfully won an open third-level allowance over this track, and at age 3, this horse has more upside than the two favorites.