04/26/2006 11:00PM

Two older speedsters line up

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CHICAGO - If 8-year-old Silver Bid glances to the right while he stands in the starting gate awaiting the beginning of the Chicagoland Handicap on Saturday at Hawthorne, he will get a look at 8-year-old Take Achance on Me standing in the stall beside him. And the two oldest horses in the six-furlong Chicagoland are the two fastest horses in the Chicagoland.

The Silver Bid-Take Achance on Me matchup is just one of many interesting subplots on a day of Illinois-bred stakes racing on the final weekend of the National Jockey Club meet, which ends Tuesday. Six $100,000 statebred-restricted stakes form the meat of a 10-race card that boasts the most top-to-bottom quality seen here this season.

Take Achance on Me handled Silver Bid the two times they met last season, winning this race last spring at Hawthorne and returning from Maryland to take the White Oak Handicap on June 25 at Arlington. The White Oak, however, was Take Achance on Me's last start before he resurfaced in a high-end sprint allowance March 30 at Laurel. Take Achance on Me finished second there, but appeared to receive an ideal prep for the Chicagoland.

"He was just a little tired, and he needed to be freshened up," trainer Mike Trombetta said, explaining Take Achance on Me's long layoff. "We gave him some time off, and he came back well. The horse that beat him last time is very legitimate, and hopefully we can go in the right direction."

Take Achance on Me and leading rider Chris Emigh figure to head straight to the lead while Perry Compton on Silver Bid tries to work out a trip. Ideally, Silver Bid would press the pace from the outside, but to get to that spot Compton will have to let Take Achance on Me go, and then swing to the outside.

"I'd rather be outside Take Achance on Me, but I learn not to worry about things I can't control," said trainer Joel Berndt. "That horse breaks so gosh-darn fast that I think we can get outside him. That's the game plan."

Silver Bid went through a dry spell last fall, age beginning to look like an issue. But Silver Bid returned this spring with a good second-place finish to Fifteen Rounds here last out.

"He went through a little streak last fall where he wasn't himself, but he's perked back up again," Berndt said. "He's fresh and fit, and I really look forward to a big effort from him."

There are six others in the Chicagoland, and the best of them appears to be Knowwhatimean, who won the Lightning Jet Handicap here last fall.