11/05/2004 12:00AM

Wiggins finally gets to race at home


STICKNEY, Ill. - Finally, Wiggins won't have to hit the road to run in a horse race.

An Illinois-bred based in Chicago with trainer Tony Granitz, Wiggins has ferried back and forth to Mountaineer Park in West Virginia for his last three starts, but he is primed now to defend his title in the High Alexander Stakes next Saturday at Hawthorne.

In early August, Wiggins won the $100,000 West Virginia Governor's Handicap by four lengths, but six weeks later he finished a troubled second in the $75,000 Fall Handicap. The horse's latest trip East came on Oct. 26, when he won an open allowance race by three-quarters of a length, a game effort in a fast race.

"He's a Mountain Man," Granitz joked Friday afternoon. "We would have liked to stay at home, but there weren't races for him."

The Mountaineer prep for the $75,000 High Alexander worked out perfectly, but Granitz's mind was on other matters. The day Wiggins raced, Granitz and his wife Joy adopted a baby girl named Marcela Eve. While there are no plans yet for Marcela's first published workout, Wiggins breezes at 6 a.m. Saturday, his final work for the High Alexander.

Wiggins should be a strong favorite next Saturday, though Scooter Roach, who won the Grade 3 Carey Memorial on grass here last month, is a likely challenger.

Reavis barn heats up fast

Hawthorne regulars were waiting for it, and finally, the trainer Mike Reavis unleashed a barrage of winners. Reavis saddled three winners on Thursday's nine-race card, and with two more victories here last Saturday, Reavis has bagged five wins in four racing days. The hot streak left Reavis with 10 wins from 52 starters at the meet, three less than leading trainer Steve Asmussen.

"You just keep firing away, and eventually you'll hit something, right?" said Reavis.

Self-effacement aside, Reavis appears to have built his Hawthorne meet around a mid-race move. He has found the right spots for the right horses, and the stock has made the most of the opportunities. Meanwhile, Reavis and his owners have been claiming away in recent days, giving him new ammunition for late November and the long December.

"I did think I'd do better later in the meet," Reavis said. "But you know how things go: it just turns out good sometimes."

Reavis has been hot, but no hotter than Wayne Catalano, who has surged the last two weeks, and through Thursday trailed Asmussen by just one win, 13 to 12.

Defense Motion, Camp Nagawicka seek rebound

A couple months ago at Arlington, Defense Motion and Camp Nagawicka looked like a couple of the more promising young Illinois-bred sprinters in Chicago, but both enter Sunday's featured seventh race after three straight losses in statebred-restricted second-level allowance races.

They exit the same race, an Oct. 17 six-furlong sprint here, and neither was any match for Storm the Beach. Storm the Beach, however, is among the hottest horses on the grounds right now, and he ran exceptionally fast for the class level that day.

Camp Nagawicka wasn't going to win in any case, since he broke in the air, and raced some 15 lengths behind the leaders on the backstretch. He ran on decently to finish a distant third, and came back to work a swift half-mile here Monday. Of greater concern are Camp Nagawicka's efforts two and three starts back in which he lacked the stretch punch he'd shown in his sharpest Arlington races.

Suburban Racing Stable and trainer Hugh Robertson claimed Defense Motion for just $20,000 in August, and though the horse has not since won, the claim still could prove to be a bargain. In his three losses since the claim, Defense Motion has finished second to Just See James, Shamuu, and Storm the Beach, all of whom ran unusually strong races for Illinois-bred allowance horses. No such rival appears to stand in his way Sunday.