12/13/2007 12:00AM

Wainwright-trained pair both live shots

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - This time of year at Hawthorne, it's not just a question of how your horse might be coming into a given race - it's whether your horse gets to start in a race at all.

"No. 1, I hope we get to run Saturday," said trainer John Wainwright. "That's the biggest question."

Hawthorne tried to run Wednesday and Thursday, but canceled on both days after two races because of poor track conditions. Surely, Saturday's $100,000 Jim Edgar Futurity would be postponed rather than canceled if the untenable conditions continue through the weekend, but Wainwright, as much as anyone, has an interest in seeing the race go off.

Ten 2-year-olds entered the Edgar, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race for Illinois-breds, and Wainwright has two of the main contenders, Dakota Rebel and Instill, who run as separate betting interests.

Dakota Rebel won his career debut here Oct. 13 by a half-length at odds of 22-1, and was almost exactly twice that price when he captured the $100,000 Sun Power Stakes on Nov. 3.

"I was a little surprised the day he broke his maiden, but after that, not so much," Wainwright said of Dakota Rebel's publicly unexpected success. "He's really professional. In the morning, he doesn't impress you much, but he may be a better horse in the long run because of it."

Dakota Rebel, who comes out of two sprints, might in the end take a back seat to Instill, who won an Illinois-bred maiden-special-weight in a romp two starts ago, and was a fairly promising second last time out in an open entry-level route allowance race.

"He looks the part," Wainwright said. "He just grew all summer long. But the bottom line is, you gotta outrun River Bear."

True enough. River Bear was a troubled second to Dakota Rebel in the Sun Power, but won Instill's two-turn allowance race by more than four lengths.

Trained by Rusty Hellman, River Bear, however, has made seven starts already this season, and it would be no great shock if he regressed coming back three weeks after a top effort.

Breaking from the rail is Holy Vesper, who may have a longshot's chance in the Edgar. Holy Vesper had a troubled trip while finishing fifth, beaten less than five lengths, in the Sun Power. He is by Vicar and is eligible to improve in his route debut, and shows three breezes at trainer Steve Brown's Penn National base since coming to Chicago last month.