07/13/2004 12:00AM

Valiant Anna in smart spot once again


CHICAGO - The Churchill Downs meet has ended, and Kentucky-based horses are beginning to find their way into Arlington Park races on a daily basis. Luckily for the locals, Glitter Act made it only as far as the also-eligible list in Thursday's featured eighth race here.

, from the powerful Dale Romans barn, would have been one of the ones had she made it into the body of the field, but that seems highly unlikely, and Glitter Act probably will have to await another race.

Not Valiant Anna, who through the miracle of optional claiming stands to win her second straight start in the Thursday feature. The race is at one mile on grass and is written for third-level allowance horses or $62,500 claimers. Valiant Anna, just twice-started this season, ran for the price and won on June 25, and she will be the favorite under Earlie Fires coming right back three weeks later.

has raced only 11 times in her career, but she has made the most of her limited starts, winning six of them. And at Arlington, she has been invincible, with five races and five victories.

With that record, and the successful beginning to her summer, one might have expected to see the Valiant Anna pop up in some sort of overnight stakes or lower-level open stakes race.

But such is not the way of Valiant Anna's connections, the owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Pat Cuccurullo. Calabrese will capture another title as leading owner at Arlington when this season ends (it is an annual affair now), and Cuccurullo, who became Calabrese's private trainer over the winter, is in the hunt for leading trainer at the meet, with 18 victories so far. Their success comes not by taking shots with horses, but running them in very realistic spots - such as Valiant Anna's on Thursday.

The place and show horses from her recent victory are back for this race, and both Mymich and Chilling Effect have a chance to reverse the prior result.

Chilling Effect, at her best, has a big stretch punch that works best when there is some pace early in her race. There was little last time, and Chilling Effect checked in third. Mymich has slightly more tactical foot, and her second to Valiant Anna last out represented a nice leap forward: Perhaps there is more to come on this afternoon.