12/17/2007 12:00AM

Two-turn prep sets up Instill for victory

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - It's certainly not like the connections of the 2-year-old Illinois-bred Instill weren't trying to win when Instill raced in an open two-turn entry-level allowance race on Nov.o25 at Hawthorne. But Instill's race that day served as a means to an end.

"I had talked to [jockey] Chris Emigh's agent [Jay Fedor] before we ran in that open race, and we talked about how if you didn't have a route race in you, you didn't win the Jim Edgar," said trainer John Wainwright.

Instill wound up finishing second to River Bear, another Edgar-bound Illinois-bred, in the late November start, but he reaped the benefit of the two-turn experience when he easily won the Edgar on Saturday. River Bear was left in his wake, finishing second.

Instill had debuted way back in April going 4 1/2 furlongs at Hawthorne, but just because he was able to start so early didn't mean Instill was strictly a speedy, precocious type.

"I always thought he'd be a better horse going long," Wainwright said Monday. "He ran really well. I was proud of him."

Instill, a Proud Citizen colt owned by Sharon Morgan, moved toward the top of the Illinois-bred 2-year-old division with his victory. Problem is, there are no longer Illinois-bred stakes race until the one-mile Springfield next summer at Arlington. Instill will get about a month off, Wainwright said, and is likely to wind up facing open company when he returns to action in 2008. Instill's rise in class could come at Hawthorne, but Wainwright said he also would consider stakes opportunities at Turfway Park, even though Instill might be a better horse on dirt than Polytrack.

Meanwhile, Wainwright's other Edgar starter, Dakota Ridge, suffered his first loss after winning a maiden race in his debut and an Illinois-bred stakes in his second start. Dakota Ridge actually ran well to finish fourth Saturday, considering he came out of the race with bucked shins, Wainwright said.

"He's going to get some time for sure," said Wainwright.

Smart Wildcat on Wednesday: Ready or not?

Smart Wildcat had a decent run at Oaklawn Park last season, and the 2008 Oaklawn meet is not far over the horizon. So, handicappers must try to decide in the featured fourth race here Wednesday whether Smart Wildcat is merely getting ready for an Oaklawn redux, or if she's ready to win in her first start back from a layoff of nearly five months.

Smart Wildcat was one of seven fillies entered in a second-level allowance race carded for six furlongs, and not only does she appear talented enough to win the race, she also seems to have the right running style. Shezastormin and Jay's Princess both do by far their best work on the early lead, and Little Boot also prefers racing on or near the pace. Smart Wildcat's best performances have come as a one-run closer in sprint races, and that could be the winning trip in Wednesday's fourth.

Trainer Jeff Lynn has managed to get six published works into Smart Wildcat for her comeback, and three of them came at five furlongs. Lynn also has landed leading rider Tim Thornton, a jockey who tends to make the most of the ground-saving opportunities offered by post 1, from which Smart Wildcat breaks Wednesday.

If Smart Wildcat merely is prepping, then perhaps Jay's Princess hangs on. She has finished second after setting the pace in three previous second-level allowance tries this meet.

Reavis moves into first-place tie

Add Mike Reavis to the growing list of trainers who could end up leading the Hawthorne meet in wins. After last week, Reavis had drawn even with Wayne Catalano atop the standings, with 25 wins.

Catalano's action at Hawthorne has slowed to a trickle, with much of his stock in Florida readying for Gulfstream. So, too, with Jamie Ness, who has 20 wins at Hawthorne, but is in the process of shifting his operation to Tampa Bay Downs.

That probably leaves Reavis and Frank Kirby, who had 24 wins through Sunday, as the main players in the trainer's race.

Tim Thornton, meanwhile, maintains a 52-46 edge over Emigh in the jockey standings as racing resumes Wednesday at Hawthorne.