07/04/2001 12:00AM

Vanier to Be Valiant: Be fast

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Old boss, meet the new boss.

Be Valiant, trained by seven-time Arlington training champ Harvey Vanier, meets Boss Ego, trained by Arlington newcomer and current leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, in Friday's featured seventh race here, a fourth-level allowance-optional claimer at about one mile on turf.

Eight others also were entered, including the talented Jake the Flake, a recent Churchill allowance winner who starts for trainer Hal Wiggins.

Hollendorfer won eight races here through last weekend to top the standings, while Vanier, who won five training titles in a row here in the 1990's, remained mired in a season-long slump. Through last weekend, he had won only one race in 37 attempts here, a highly uncharacteristic cold streak.

One of Vanier's rare Chicago winners this year was Be Valiant, who led all the way in a May 29 turf race at Hawthorne for his fifth career win. A fairly promising 3-year-old two two seasons ago for owner Russell Reineman, Be Valiant struggled through much of 2000 before coming around again this spring. Ramsey Zimmerman takes the mount Friday on Be Valiant, who shows a steady work pattern since his last race.

Boss Ego is the class of this field but remains somewhat unproven on turf. A stakes winner on dirt, Boss Ego has won only one of seven turf starts, and that was a $62,500 claimer 22 months ago at Del Mar. Boss Ego missed nine months of racing beginning a year ago, but Hollendorfer brought him back this spring at age 5 in good form, and Boss Ego comes off three stakes races in northern California. Leading rider Mark Guidry has a call on Boss Ego.

Wiggins, who didn't stable here last summer, has an Arlington string this year and has already won two races at the meet. Jake the Flake could give Wiggins another.

A lightly raced 5-year-old, Jake the Flake has finished worse than third only twice in nine turf starts, and seems always to be close at the wire on grass. He broke through with an overdue win May 27 at Churchill Downs and now steps up to the next class level. Jake the Flake is one of only four horses who do not start for a claiming price.

Trainer Michele Boyce entered two in the race, but Rocky Robyn figures to have a much better chance should the race be rained onto the main track. Major Omansky, meanwhile, won a turf allowance here last time out, but benefited from a very slow pace.