04/30/2009 12:00AM

Unless turf is firm, Hooh Why may withdraw


The $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes is a nice enough race, featuring a pair of horses - one old, one new - from the Team Block stable. But take a look at the $50,000 Double Delta Stakes later on Saturday's Derby Day card at Arlington, and you will find the filly Hooh Why, who won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last month.

Hooh Why debuted last summer at Arlington, but then began touring North America. She raced at Presque Isle, then went on to Woodbine, where she nearly beat the talented colt Patena in the Display Stakes. Soon she was down at Tampa Bay for a third in the Sandpiper Stakes in December, which was followed by a cross-country ship to Southern California for near-misses in the Sunshine Million Oaks and the Santa Anita Oaks. Exhausted? Not exactly. On April 4, Hooh Why went out and upset the Ashland at odds of 24-1.

One minor issue - Hooh Why may not be running in the Double Delta. The race is scheduled for one mile on turf, and the whole plan here was for Hooh Why to make her grass debut in an overnight stakes, to see if she handled the surface and could start later this month in the American 1000 Guineas at Arlington.

"We were kind of hoping for a little better turf," said Donna Dupuy, who trains Hooh Why for Derby Day Farms and Mark Hoffman - for now, at least. Hooh Why has started for three other trainers, depending on which part of North America she happens to inhabit at the time.

Dupuy said Hooh Why probably would be scratched if the turf remains wet, and is unlikely to stay in the race if it's rained onto Polytrack.

"We already know what she is there, and there are better races for her if we're going to do that," she said.

Even without Hooh Why, the Double Delta is an interesting race. Included in the field is Proceed Bee, who can run, but had the misfortune of chasing Rachel Alexandra this past winter at Oaklawn.

In the Illinois Owners, carded for 1 1/16 miles on turf, Team Block has entered 8-year-old Fort Prado, one of the best Illinois-breds of recent years, as well as Free Fighter, a horse half Fort Prado's age. Free Fighter crushed allowance foes at Fair Grounds in his lone start this season, and though he does not appear to care for wet turf, Free Fighter did win on Arlington Polytrack last summer, should the Owners be rained onto the main track.