07/25/2001 11:00PM

As usual, Frankel holds turf ace


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Even at Arlington, you can't escape the long shadow trainer Bobby Frankel casts in graded turf stakes. Beau Greely, the Southern California-based trainer, has two horses entered in Saturday's $250,000 Arlington Handicap, and just like at home Greely has to beat Frankel, who has sent El Gran Papa for the Grade 3 race.

The Arlington Handicap, which drew a field of eight, is the sixth of 11 races on a program that includes the Modesty Handicap and Round Table Stakes. The Arlington Handicap will be televised live nationally on CBS, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Central time. First post will be an earlier-than-usual noon, Central.

Two of the entrants, Raypour, trained by Greely, and Pleasant King, trained by Chris Speckert, were cross-entered in a second-level allowance race here Friday.

The Arlington Handicap field lacks depth: Kick Boxer scratched out of an off-the-turf allowance race Thursday; Smilin' Slew is an Illinois-bred who lacks open stakes experience; and Orleans Road was claimed out of a win in a $35,000 claiming race three weeks ago.

The class of the field is El Gran Papa, the Greely-trained Takarian, and Make No Mistake, who makes his first start for trainer Burk Kessinger. El Gran Papa, owned by Oak Cliff Stables, is not Frankel's best turf runner, but the 4-year-old El Gran Senor colt has raced only eight times in this country and was good enough to win Lone Star's $300,000 Dallas Turf Cup in his most recent start. Last spring, El Gran Papa finished 12th in the Explosive Bid at Fair Grounds but had a terrible trip. He is untested at the 10-furlong distance of Saturday's race.

Takarian, a 6-year-old, won his only start at 1 1/4 miles. He came into form for Greely and owner Columbine Stable after undergoing laser surgery over the winter to correct a breathing problem. Takarian won the American Handicap at Hollywood in his last start.

Make No Mistake, previously trained by Christophe Clement for owner Moyglare Stud, has run only twice this year, winning the Grade 3 Bougainvillea Handicap at Hialeah in his seasonal debut and finishing second to Hap in the Dixie Handicap May 19 at Pimlico. He is the most experienced horse at 10 furlongs in the race, having won twice from seven starts at the distance, all in Europe.

Two races after the Arlington Handicap, the $150,000 Round Table, for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs on dirt, goes with a field of six.

Preference in the Round Table goes to San Pedro, Horrible Evening, and Discreet Hero. San Pedro, an Illinois-bred, has won three of four starts, including an easy sprint allowance tally here July 7 in his first start back from a leg injury. His trainer, Spanky Broussard, said he is confident that San Pedro will handle nine furlongs. San Pedro won his only two-turn start this winter at Fair Grounds.

Discreet Hero easily won the Alydar, an overnight stakes here, in his most recent start. It was his second straight win, and both came in routes. Trainer Al Stall, however, isn't sure yet if Discreet Hero is a two-turn horse. "His pedigree doesn't say it, but we'll see," Stall said. "He deserves a chance."

Horrible Evening stretches back out to two turns after finishing third in the $100,000 Northern Dancer at Churchill's one-turn mile. "He's kind of a grinder," trainer Niall O'Callaghan said. "He likes two turns, where he can settle in better."

Gift of the Eagle, trained by Ken McPeek, was third in the Lone Star Derby this spring, and is the only horse in the field to have run nine furlongs on dirt.