06/07/2007 12:00AM

Trainee tops field, if she runs


CHICAGO - There are few races harder to fill, especially during the year's first half, than a second-level allowance restricted to 3-year-olds, and it is a sign of the times at Arlington that such a race made it into Saturday's program with eight entries. Race 8 is for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, and it shares top billing on Arlington's Belmont Day card with race 9, a second-level allowance for older turf horses at nine furlongs.

Trainee might be favored in the 3-year-old filly race but she also might not run in it, since trainer Tom Proctor also entered her in a Prairie Meadows stakes on Saturday evening. Trainee began her career last October at Hawthorne, finishing a distant second in a maiden race, but she has turned out okay. Trainee won a pair of Tampa Bay Downs races early this year by some 15 lengths combined, then finished second to the nice filly Autobahn Girl in the Suncoast Stakes. She was sixth at a two-turn distance perhaps farther than her best in the Florida Oaks, and was first in a seven-furlong Tampa stakes restricted to Florida-breds.

Trainee's overall form picture looks good Saturday, but so does Secret Kin, who with five starts to Trainee's seven might have more upside. Secret Kin also exits a stakes win in a statebred-restricted race, hers against Illinois-breds at Hawthorne on April 28. Secret Kin looked average at best in a pair of starts last year at age 2, but has won all three of her races this season while seeming to improve in each of them.

There are others worthy of note in race 8: Byenne looked good winning an entry-level allowance race on May 11 at Arlington; Ally's Little Sis's form surged far forward last out in her Polytrack debut; and Bold Angel suffered a tough loss May 11 in a race at this class level.

Race 9, the nine-furlong turf test, seems tough to figure - and for good reason. The 10 horses in the race have combined to win only 15 of 82 grass races and this year the group has compiled a collective win record of just 4 for 31. The Todd Pletcher-trained Golden Harpoon failed to make an impact as the favorite in a Polytrack race at this class level last out, but was third to the good turf horse Drilling for Oil in an 11-furlong grass race this past winter at Gulfstream.