04/27/2006 11:00PM

Weather crucial in turf tilt

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CHICAGO - Twelve horses were entered for the Sunday feature at the National Jockey Club meet, and the connections of several were paying as much attention to the weather forecast as the condition book.

"Rain likely," was the National Weather Service forecast for Saturday night and Sunday in Chicago. So, Sunday's ninth race could be transformed from a third-level allowance with a $35,000 claiming option at 1 1/16 miles on turf to the same kind of race at the same distance but on the main track.

Either way, this is a tough one.

Jake's Fever, Holy City, and Marion's Man look the least likely to contend - if they even run - on turf. Ivan Jay Perry, who was scratched out of an off-the-turf claimer earlier this week, won't even go to the gate if the race is moved to dirt.

Ivan Jay Perry was scratched from a slightly lower-class $25,000 claimer, but even at age 10, he still might be good enough to win, at least during this part of the season. Trainer Brian Williamson noted that Ivan Jay Perry seemed to lose his edge during the heat of the summer the last couple years. Springtime might be the right time for this gelding, who races for the 54th time in a long career.

Trainer Moises Yanez has two for the race. Both Cavu and Majestic Zeal won Illinois-bred second-level allowance races in their most recent start. Cavu just raced April 18, but came back 10 days later with a fast half-mile work, and easily won in his only try over turf. Majestic Zeal has a win and two thirds in three trips over the Hawthorne turf.

Also worth considering on turf is Diplomatic Agent, who almost certainly would appreciate a return to turf after a pair of subpar dirt races. Diplomatic Agent finished second by a half-length in a third-level turf allowance last fall at Keeneland.

Meanwhile, the number of morning workouts across town at Arlington Park has increased steadily through this week.

Twenty-six horses recorded timed works on Friday at Arlington, among them several stakes horses. Fifteen Rounds went a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80. Sweet Sugaree went a bullet half-mile in 47 seconds, and Home of Stars was timed in 1:15.40 for six furlongs. The Arlington meet commences on Friday.