05/29/2003 12:00AM

Which direction is Tejano Honey headed?


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Every horse deserves a mulligan, and when Tejano Honey, one of last year's best and most consistent Illinois-bred fillies, finished sixth in her first start of the year, trainer Tom Dorris gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Let Tejano Honey have another chance, Dorris suggested before the $100,000 Governor's Lady on April 12 at Hawthorne. But she ran even worse. Tejano Honey threw in the towel on the far turn and lost by more than 37 lengths. A filly who hadn't run a bad race in her career had started her season with two of them, and when that happens, it raises serious concerns.

"Now it's been two clunkers," Dorris said. "I don't know what it is. You're always worried about one when they run bad."

Tejano Honey has turned in two recent works Dorris terms average, and for the first time in a long time Tejano Honey won't be one of the favorites when she faces 11 rivals Saturday in the $40,000 Your Ladyship Handicap at Arlington Park.

Tejano Honey may still rebound, and if she does - and pays a big number - she could leave Chicago regulars who have followed her rise and fall muttering.

Win Won, who has traded blows with Tejano Honey several times, may supplant her as the favorite this time, but Win Won is unproven at this race's seven-furlong distance and added front leg bandages in her last start.

In fact, the Your Ladyship looks ripe for a longshot. Miss Spragg ran fast and bucked a prevailing track bias when she won here May 22, and trainer Mike Reavis, who claimed her that day, tosses Miss Spragg right into a better race. Jiroga Lite - like Win Won a Fairmount Park invader - could light the board if she builds on a closing third-place finish in her last start.

And we come full circle back to Dorris, who also has Rain Boots for this race.

Off since August, Rain Boots excels at Arlington and beat the good open sprinter Emily Ring the last time she raced. A strong six-furlong work here May 18 suggests Rain Boots is fit, and Dorris already has won at this meet with an extended layoff horse.

"She's been training pretty good," he said. "Hopefully she's ready."

Though as Tejano Honey has shown this year, you never know.

Famous owner keeps low profile

Crow Jane is one of 10 horses entered for Saturday's Real Delight Stakes, and the official documents that accompany her when she races list "Totier Creek Farm (Sam Shepard)" as the filly's owner.

Sam Shepard, the playwright and actor?

"Yes, that's him," Crow Jane's trainer, Jeff Thornbury, somewhat reluctantly admitted this week. "He's pretty low-key."

Shepard, according to Thornbury, has owned horses before, though Crow Jane may be his best one. Shepard had a horse with trainer Bruce Levine in New York, and Levine recommended he get in touch with Thornbury, who is based in Kentucky and breaks 40 to 50 horses a year at his farm near Paris.

"I speak with him regularly, a couple times a week," said Thornbury. "He rides cutting horses, has horses at his farm - he's involved."

Crow Jane won her maiden with aplomb last winter at Fair Grounds, just missed in a turf sprint allowance there, and captured a Keeneland allowance race by five lengths. That win earned her a spot in the Grade 3 La Troienne during Derby Week at Churchill, but Crow Jane engaged in a speed duel and faded to sixth.

"It was seven furlongs and she was caught in a fast pace," Thornbury said.

Crow Jane is capable of running better, especially as she turns back to three-quarters of a mile, and last week at Keeneland she had "a particularly nice work, a foot-in-the-dashboard kind of work," said Thornbury.

Extreme longshot wins another

Mynameischase paid $32.80 for winning Wednesday's fourth race, a nice longshot coming in. But in relative terms, the price was quite short. Mynameischase is the horse who won at odds of 120-1 when he raced here May 14, and his win payoff of $242.80 that day was Arlington's highest in years.

The May 14 victory had come in an Illinois-bred first-level allowance race, but Wednesday trainer Nicolas Perez - employing rider Cruz Contreras once again - wisely dropped Mynameischase into a $7,500 claimer rather than climbing the allowance ladder. Mynameischase is good right now, but he had luck on his side Wednesday, hitting the wire just in front of a tiring speed horse and an onrushing closer to win by a neck.

"It was great, because there was a lot of excitement about the situation from last time," Perez said. "Some people were saying some things - you know how that goes - and it was nice to see him come back and win again."

Perez is staying realistic. He said Mynameischase would at most get a modest class hike into a $10,000 claimer the next time he runs.