06/23/2004 11:00PM

White Oak, Springfield best of five undercard stakes


CHICAGO - They are talking about syndicating Smarty Jones for a zillion dollars. But how much was Buckbean first worth as a stallion prospect?

Buckbean? Yes, Buckbean, son of Buckfinder, and sire of Silver Bid, one of the fastest, gamest sprinters in the Midwest.

Yes, a good horse can come from anywhere.

Silver Bid is a good horse, and he has landed in a very good race, the $75,000-added White Oak Handicap, the last of six Illinois-bred stakes races on Arlington's 10-race Saturday program. Silver Bid has two obvious rivals in the six-furlong White Oak - Wiggins and Shandy - and another tier of contenders that includes Magic Doe, San Pedro, Manitowish, and Johnathan. Bold Caller looks overmatched.

Silver Bid is 6, but he is at least as good this year as last, with 2 victories in 3 starts this year, both in open allowance races.

"Last summer, we were working him, and he worked too fast," said trainer Joel Berndt. "We took the fast works away from him. If you let him, he'll bullet-work every time. He was leaving his race on the track doing that."

Berndt credits the exercise rider Rafael Pena for slowing down Silver Bid. At 130 pounds, Pena is stronger than most jockeys, and has taught Silver Bid to relax in his breezes.

Back at the barn, there is no teaching Silver Bid - just pay the peppermint toll to enter his stall. "On the track he's all business," Berndt said. "Around the barn, you've got to give him a mint to catch him. He's been like that since he was 2. If you go in to catch him, he'll just turn and face you with his butt."

Silver Bid has speed and an ideal draw in post 8. He and jockey Rene Douglas probably will end up just outside Shandy, who breaks from post 3 and is likely to use his speed from there. Shandy lost by a head to Silver Bid on March 20 at Hawthorne and beat him three weeks later in the Chicagoland Handicap. His trainer, Richard Hazelton, said Shandy is training well, but questions whether his horse is as good now as he was in the spring.

Wiggins, one of the best statebred horses in training, has not run in a sprint race in over a year, but has won 2 of 3 starts at six furlongs, and twice has beaten open stakes horses.

"He'll probably be a little off the pace this time," said trainer Tony Granitz. "This is no easy spot."

Springfield: Loaded with possibilities

The trainer Richard Hazelton and the Asiel Stable have three horses for the Springfield Stakes - and even that might not be enough. Twelve horses were entered in the Springfield, possibly the best betting race on the Prairie State card.

For 3-year-olds at a one-turn mile on dirt, the Springfield offers no easy throw-outs, only a burgeoning list of contenders. Hazelton figured earlier this week that the race would overfill, and not all his horses would be able to run. He said he preferred Kemp for the race, followed by Echota, then Prairie King.

Kemp, a Take Me Out colt, has flashed brilliance in his brief career. Last summer, he won his only start as a 2-year-old by six lengths, and May 22, he easily beat older horses in a statebred entry-level sprint allowance. But in his 3-year-old debut at Hawthorne, Kemp bled through Lasix and ran seventh of eight. He has turned in solid workout since his Arlington win.

"I got no excuses unless he bleeds," Hazelton said. "That's the only thing."

That, and stiff competition. Kemp's stablemate Echota could be a formidable foe, while Persuaggle and Just See James both exit impressive races. With 10 starts, Persuaggle has a significant seasoning edge on lightly raced horses like Kemp and the twice-started Just See James, and his most recent race might have been his best. Persuaggle won a second-level statebred allowance by more than 11 lengths while being ridden out.

Purple Violet: Homecoming for two

Edward Coletti Jr. has Illinois-breds for Saturday's stakes races. But it took some doing to get them here.

Coletti is based at Philadelphia Park, but he trains three Illinois-breds there for Jeffrey Nielsen's Everest Stables. They are pretty good ones, too. The 3-year-old fillies Slewville and Wish for Gold ran one-two in the $96,000 Lady Hallie on April 10 at Hawthorne, and both are back for the $75,000-added Purple Violet, a one-mile dirt race. Also on Tuesday's 14-hour van ride west was Medicine Eyes, who will run in the Springfield Stakes.

In her lone start since the Lady Hallie, Slewville was sixth, beaten 13 lengths, in the $100,000 Go for Wand at Delaware Park, a race Coletti feels might have been beyond Slewville's best distance.

She and Wish for Gold are contenders again Saturday, but the Purple Violet is a deep race. Western Mindy finished ahead of Ms. Lydonia in a June 9 allowance race here, but Ms. Lydonia might be ready to step forward with a peak effort.

Murphy: Synco Peach perfect in '04

Summer Mis is passing the six-furlong Isaac Murphy for older female sprinters, and Synco Peach appears ready to step into the breach.

Synco Peach went down with an injury at this time last year, but if the problem affected her racing career, it has not been apparent. Synco Peach is perfect in three starts this season, including a victory over open company in her most recent race at Hawthorne.

Three weeks ago, trainer Percy Scherbenske scratched Synco Peach on a sloppy track at Canterbury Park, and Scherbenske worries about a seven-week break between starts. But if she carries over her spring form, Synco Peach can win her first stakes.

* The more you look at it, the more difficult the $75,000-added Lincoln Heritage, a grass route for older fillies and mares, is to figure. Samantha B. and Lighthouse Lil are the likely favorites, but a horse like Oggi, Gumbo Love, or A Star Above could spring an upset.