Updated on 09/18/2011 1:40AM

Whitworth looking like a rematch


CHICAGO - The pace of Chicago stakes races slows to a crawl this time of year. All that remain on the 2006 calendar are the Dec. 16 Jim Edgar Futurity, which is shaping up as a pretty good little race, and Saturday's Pat Whitworth Debutante, the female counterpart to the Edgar. Both are for Illinois-bred 2-year-olds who were made eligible to the races through early payments months ago.

Saturday's Whitworth looks softer than the upcoming Edgar, which will bring out the undefeated Caruso for trainer Richard Hazelton, who also has a filly named Copper State that is likely for Saturday's Whitworth. Copper State finished third last out in the Showtime Deb Stakes, and the first two from that race, the Spanky Broussard-trained Metallic Miss and Kentucky-based Rich N Clever, also are expected back for the 1o1/16-mile Whitworth, which figures to draw a large field.

The new players are headed by the filly Frances Cat, who won an Illinois-bred sprint maiden race last month for trainer Tom Swearingen and appears to have a decent chance to improve in her first trip around two turns.

'Smoke' points for Kentucky stakes

Even as winter approaches, Mac Robertson's barn is starting to get warm. Robertson, the son of prominent Chicago horseman Hugh Robertson, has basically laid low since completing another excellent Canterbury Park season, but he has the crack sprinter Smoke Smoke Smoke going the right direction now, unveiled a fairly promising maiden winner named King A J, and said another good sprinter, Celluloid Hero, is nearly ready for his first breeze since going on the shelf last summer

Smoke Smoke Smoke missed more than a year of racing after hurting himself during the summer of 2005, and after a much-needed comeback race on Oct. 9 at Hawthorne, he was a good second in a Nov. 16 Churchill Downs allowance race, and is scheduled to race next on Dec. 30 in the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park. Then, it is on to Oaklawn Park, where Smoke Smoke Smoke raced well early in his 3-year-old season. Wednesday, he turned in a solid half-mile work at Hawthorne, prepping for the Turfway start.

"He's fit now," Robertson said. "He went awful good this morning."

Celluloid Hero, who won the Dixieland Stakes last winter at Oaklawn, hasn't raced since winning consecutive Canterbury Park stakes over the summer.

"He's about ready to work again," said Robertson. "He just got body sore and a little sour. He was racing sound when he got turned out."

Kirby making title run

Chris Emigh has a 33-win lead in the Hawthorne jockey standings. That race is over, but the battle for leading trainer should come down to the final weeks of the Hawthorne season. Tom Tomillo, who won the National Jockey Club title last spring, has led for most of the fall meet here, but Frank Kirby has closed steadily, and has been sending out waves of runners lately.

The two were tied going into Wednesday's card before Tomillo won a maiden claiming race early on the program to go up, 28-27. Tomillo, however, has shifted part of his operation to Fair Grounds, and probably is at a disadvantage in terms of sheer numbers.

Pair of longshot winners meet

Three entry-level allowance races - one for Illinois-bred 2-year-olds, another for older Illinois-breds, and the third for older open route horses - are the highest-class fare on a nine-race Friday program.

The 2-year-old heat, race 1, may be the most interesting of the bunch. It includes two unlikely debut winners, Gotem Cart, who scored at odds of 32-1, and Blame Geoffrey, who was up by a nose on Nov. 24 at odds of 68-1.