09/07/2005 11:00PM

Trainer: 'Shiloh' is ready for action

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - There have been several starts and stops during Shiloh Bound's eight-race career - two long layoffs, a couple of shorter breaks. But when Shiloh Bound comes out, he comes out to run. And his trainer, Walter Bindner, thinks Shiloh Bound is ready to do something when he makes his first start in seven months Saturday in the John Henry Stakes at Arlington Park.

"Well, he's training excellent," said Bindner, who is based at Churchill Downs. "He looks as good as he's ever looked."

And there have been times when has looked pretty good. He won the 2004 Black Gold Handicap at Fair Grounds, and this year finished second in the Mardi Gras Handicap there on Feb. 8. In fact, the Mardi Gras marks the last time Shiloh Bound raced. Shiloh Bound came back from a similar layoff around this time last year at Arlington, finishing sixth in an allowance race on dirt. But Bindner said Shiloh Bound "is a little more ready this time than last year."

"Last year, when I brought him out, he really washed out in the paddock" Bindner said. "If I was looking for a tip-off on whether to bet on him Saturday, I'd take a look at him before the race."

The $40,000 John Henry, at 1 1/16 miles on turf, drew a field of eight, and it's an interesting bunch. Gondolieri, once graded-stakes class, makes his second start back from an eight-month layoff; he finished a decent fourth in the Sea O'Erin Handicap here Aug. 6, his first start for trainer Steve Asmussen.

"I think he'll run similar, but I'm hoping this is an easier spot," Asmussen said.

set the pace in the Sea O'Erin, and of four pace factors in the race - including the forward-running Shiloh Bound - he is drawn closest to the inside.

"I don't know if needs to be on the lead, it's just he's pretty aggressive," Asmussen said.

, who might be in too deep, seems certain to force the pace, while Ole Faunty could wind up pressing the lead group, though he led all the way while winning his turf debut here Aug. 7. The closer with the best chance might be Home of Stars, who was third to Perfect Drift last out in the Washington Park Handicap, and almost certainly is a better horse on dirt. But Home of Stars has twice won on grass, even if it's not the ideal place for him, and if the pace gets too hot, he, Diplomatic Agent, or Lacer will have a chance to run down the speed.