10/21/2004 11:00PM

Whose nose in front now?


STICKNEY, Ill. - The aging Ivan Jay Perry was having an unlucky season even without making things harder for himself. He created another obstacle here Oct. 1 by trying to hurdle. Closing fast in the middle of the Hawthorne turf course, Ivan Jay Perry apparently looked down and saw the tracks worn into the grass by the starting gate. He gave a hop, switching his leads at an inopportune moment, and won by a nose anyway.

He's back Sunday in the featured ninth race, same class level, but a half-furlong shorter, at one mile on the turf. Back, too, is the horse he beat by a nose, Color by D'or, plus the third-, fifth-, and ninth-place finishers from that Oct. 1 race.

Also entered in the race, a fourth-level allowance with a $50,000 claiming option, were Colorful Tour, once a high-class dirt runner, and Home of Stars, winner of three straight races. There are 10 horses in the field's body, with Gigawatt and Tio Lupe also-eligible.

Ivan Jay Perry, a dead closer, kept getting buried in paceless races at Arlington, but he got just enough help last time to win. Color by D'or, who is all speed, was pushed into an opening quarter-mile in 23 seconds, and was pressured slightly coming to the quarter pole, softening him up for Ivan Jay Perry's late, jumpy rally. But this time, Color by D'or might have an easier trip. The apprentice rider Freddie Fong picks up the mount, which means Color by D'or sheds seven pounds off his last start, and if his last start had been at Sunday's one-mile distance, Color by D'or would have held on. Expect him to hold his form: Color by d'Or has gone 9-6-1-1 over the Hawthorne turf.

Ivan Jay Perry could catch him again. So could another new shooter, Just Gossip, who finished seventh last out in a slightly higher-class race, the John Henry Stakes at Arlington. Cloudy's Knight beat Gin and Sin in the John Henry, and either one of those horses would be favored in the Sunday allowance. Just Gossip, from the barn of Greg Geier, won his only start over the Hawthorne grass and might get first run on Color by D'or after saving ground from an inside post.

* There is young talent in the afternoon's first race, an entry-level 2-year-old allowance. The race should come down to Raving Rocket, who was hung very wide on an inside-biased racetrack Oct. 8 at Keeneland, and the Illinois-bred Chateau, a sharp winner here Oct. 2.