11/03/2004 1:00AM

Value certain to be found in big fields


CHICAGO - In an era when short fields have become the norm at many racing venues, Friday's Hawthorne card looks like a double feature, with enough horses entered on a 10-race program to fill two cards at a less populous racetrack.

The Breeders' Cup this is not, but who would expect star quality on a November afternoon in Southwest Chicago? And with 107 horses entered on the day, a fat exacta or pick three surely hides in some shadowy thicket, waiting to be taken home.

The highest-class entry on the menu is race 6, a first-level allowance race for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. Low-level allowance races for older horses rarely are hotbeds of budding talent this time of year, and the Friday feature is no exception. But there are 10 horses entered, and value might be had - somewhere, somehow.

Finding value does involve identifying the winner, a point sometimes lost on handicappers constantly seeking "value plays." Identifying Friday's sixth-race winner is no easy task. Chivalric, from the Steve Asmussen barn, might be favored off a second-place finish last time out in a race much like this one. Other contenders include recent maiden winner Alpha to Omega; I'm Charismatic, second last out at Mountaineer Park; and Western Song, who would benefit if a developing inside-speed bias continues to take hold through this racing week.

Bare Necessities retired to farm

Bare Necessities, who finished last Saturday in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, has been retired and shipped to George Middleton's Iron County Farm in Arcadia, Mo., and will be bred sometime this winter. Frank Kirby, who trained Bare Necessities during the last five races of a 26-start career, said a mating hadn't yet been planned for Bare Necessities, who goes to the farm with eight wins and more than $1 million in career earnings.

"I think they have two or three stallions in mind, but nothing's been decided yet," said Kirby, whose brother, Lon, manages Iron County.

A homebred by Silver Deputy, Bare Necessities had her best season at age 4, when she won four of eight starts.

Brueggemann riding hot streak

When racing shifted to Hawthorne in late September, trainer Roger Brueggemann had won 15 races with close to 100 starts. But in the last six weeks, Brueggemann's 19-horse string has gotten hot - hotter than it has been in years - and through Sunday he had won with eight of 28 starters at Hawthorne.

"I'm afraid to say much about it," he said. "It might all go bad."

Brueggemann, from downstate Illinois, broke in with Quarter Horses but switched to Thoroughbreds about 15 years ago, moving his operation to Chicago in 1992. His stable is built from Illinois-breds and claimers, and it has its ups and downs.

"Sometimes you can't do anything right, and sometimes you can't do anything wrong," Brueggemann said. "Right now, I've just had horses with the right conditions."

Brueggemann's eight wins place him just four behind the current leading trainer, Steve Asmussen.

* About $5.7 million was bet on Hawthorne's live card on Breeders' Cup Day, an increase of about $1.5 million from 2003.

* Races were off the turf Wednesday because of rain earlier in the week.