04/16/2002 11:00PM

Ubiquity looks cooler on the inside for NJC

Email

CHICAGO - His last running line will make you wince, and the chart caller's comment concerning his performance - "collapsed after race" - might send you scurrying toward an alternative. And still, is very much the horse to beat Saturday at Sportsman's Park in the $200,000 National Jockey Club Handicap.

Sportsman's draws its races well before they are run, and eight were entered Tuesday in the nine-furlong NJC Handicap. Sportsman's track is fast and generally biased toward inside speed, which makes the classy front-runner Ubiquity extraordinarily dangerous from post 1. Ubiquity, who makes his first start since a disastrous race Feb. 9 in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, faces last year's NJC 'Cap winner, Chicago Six, and McMahon, who edged Chicago Six last month in the Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup. A solid field also includes Bandana, Apalachee Special, E Z Glory, Hail the Chief, and Deferred Comp.

In the Donn, Ubiquity ran as an entry with Mongoose - both are owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Jim Bond - and the race sent the pair spiraling in different directions. National regard for Mongoose blossomed when he edged Red Bullet, while Ubiquity fell out of favor with a 13th-place finish, a far cry from his win over Include in the Grade 2 Clark to end his 2001 season.

Even more troubling was the sight of the 5-year-old horse laid out on the racetrack after the Donn, but Ubiquity was only a victim of heat stroke, brought on by south Florida weather and an intense early speed duel. Bond said the effects of his condition were minimal. "I trained him three days after that," Bond said Wednesday from Payson Park. "It's not like he had to miss a week or something. He bounced back very quickly. In fact, I had him ready to run about five or six weeks ago, but I just had to find the right spot."

Bond chose the NJC for Ubiquity, who arrived here Wednesday morning, because the horse should fit well with the competition, "This horse has a lot of class," he said.

Bond is also aware of the Sportsman's track profile, and expects jockey Mike McCarthy will have Ubiquity on or near the early lead. "He's pretty quick out of there," Bond said.

And finally, Bond hoped Ubiquity would have a chance to race in cooler weather than in the Donn. After an unseasonably hot start to the week in Chicago, it appears Bond will get his wish, as the temperature is supposed to drop to the 50's this weekend.

"It's just a matter of whether he handles the racetrack," said Bond. "That's the question."

Reavis in command, in a hurry

Ubiquity makes a quick stop here this weekend, but trainer Mike Reavis has been ubiquitous all meet. Through last week's racing, Reavis easily was Sportsman's leading trainer with 23 wins from 85 starters.

"I'm trying to win as many as I can as fast as I can before Arlington," said Reavis, a successful claiming-based trainer on this circuit. "It gets tougher then."

Reavis has a strong set of owners who have given him free rein to claim horses this spring. "I can claim anything I want any time I want for anyone and everyone," he said. "I think if you give anyone that opportunity, they're going to be dangerous. I have a lot to work with right now."

Among Reavis's owners is the nationally prominent Richard Englander, who employs major trainers across the country and who contacted Reavis about working for him a couple years ago. When they first spoke, Reavis recalled, Englander ticked off a list of well-known horsemen he used. "I asked him, 'Are you sure you want me?' " Reavis said.

Reavis and Englander have struck a good relationship, but it wasn't until Tuesday that Reavis met Englander in person. "On the phone, it's like talking to your brother," Reavis said.

Reavis continues his assault on this meet Friday, when he has horses in five of the nine races. Two are for Englander, two he owns himself, and in the featured seventh race, an optional claimer for 3-year-olds, Reavis saddles Secret Command for owners Frank Mancari and Mark Tiffler.

Secret Command finished a bad ninth in the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby, a race he was entered for in hopes of picking up a small part of a $500,000 purse. "He won't run against those horses or that far again," Reavis said. "Thank god he came out of it fine."

At six furlongs, Friday's race suits Secret Command's distance preference, and there are no stakes horses in the field, only low-level allowance stock like him.