08/15/2006 11:00PM

Two in Oaks may jump to turf

Four-Footed Fotos
Three Hour Nap, winning the National Jockey Club Handicap in April, has made progress after leg surgery but is still suffering from soreness.

CHICAGO - Seven 3-year-old fillies were entered Wednesday for Saturday's Arlington Oaks, but how many are actually running remains to be seen.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Oaks is not the only 3-year-old filly race on the menu here Saturday; also on the card is the Hatoof, an overnight stakes prep for the Pucker Up, the meet's best race for 3-year-old turf

fillies. The connections of two horses, Meadow Skippin and My Chickadee, left open their options, entering in both races. My Chickadee worked a half-mile on turf Wednesday, an indication of which way her people might be leaning.

Fillies going in the Hatoof must deal with Vacare, unbeaten and untested after two turf races, but there is a solid core to the Arlington Oaks, too, formed by Coolwind, Cryptoquip, and Baghdaria. Coolwind was an impressive winner in the prep for the local Oaks; Cryptoquip's last-out win in the Queen City Oaks was erased when the race was declared no-contest because of problems at the start; and Baghdaria, who on the whole has accomplished the most of the three this year, exits a poor showing in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks in New York. The other two in the race are Rolling Sea and American Diva.

Dini's fortunes have improved

Megawattie won't be favored to win the featured eighth race Friday afternoon at Arlington, but what were the odds coming into this meet that her trainer, Mike Dini, would rank among the top 10 with just more than a month left in the Arlington season?

Dini had a decent season here in 2003, winning with 8 of 79 starters, but exclude that year and start with 2002, and his combined record at Arlington is 16-185. This meet alone, Dini has already won 13 races, and that from only 45 starters, good for a win percentage just less than 30.

"If you noticed, I've only got one or two five [thousand-dollar] claimers in the barn," Dini said in a recent interview. "That's a big change. Right now, I got horses that fit."

Two owners, the Ruman Stable and John Orecchio, have given Dini greater resources to claim, and he has claimed some good ones. Leawood and La Joyeria have won multiple races since Dini took them, and Dini has won with several other recently claimed starters at the meet.

In 2003-04, Dini won a total of only 24 races from 330 starters, and to make a living, he developed a horse-hauling business, taking other people's runners to out-of-town races.

"Before, I had to hustle shipping to survive," Dini said. "I had no horses, and the ones I had were plugs. I had one good owner, and he got out of the sport - there were tough times."

These are better. Less driving someone else's horses around, more winning with his own.

Chic Dancer's next spot unclear

Chic Dancer, who was sick and had to be scratched from the Beverly D. last Saturday, is scheduled to return to training Thursday, but trainer Christine Janks said she has no idea where Chic Dancer will next race.

Chic Dancer, Janks said, contracted the same sort of illness that forced her from an overnight stakes race here earlier in the summer. That race was supposed to serve as a prep for the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap, but Chic Dancer won the Modesty anyway.

"What she had is like having a really bad chest cold," Janks said. "Part of it is caused by allergies, but the inflammation and mucus tends to get infections, also."

As for the rest of Chic Dancer's season, Janks she had picked out "no race at this point. I'm sure we'll find something, but we're not quite looking yet."

Three Hour Nap to stay at clinic

Three Hour Nap, who fractured a hind leg last month in the Washington Park Handicap, had his discharge from a Kentucky veterinary clinic delayed because of soreness in the injured limb, but still has made steady progress since surgery to fuse fractured bone two days after the July 29 Washington Park.

Trainer Hugh Robertson said Three Hour Nap had been scheduled to be released Monday, but was instead kept at the Rood and Riddle clinic as a precautionary measure.

"The X-rays look good, the staples are all out, but they decided he was too sore on that leg to go home," Robertson said. "I suspect it might be his feet - he's always been a sore-footed kind of horse."

When Three Hour Nap does leave Rood and Riddle, he will be relocated to the nearby Meadowdale Farm of owners Ron and Ricki Rashinski.