04/24/2007 11:00PM

Wiggins seeks repeat in handicap


CHICAGO - The details concerning exactly which horses will be entered in a bonanza of Illinois-bred stakes action Saturday at Hawthorne won't be determined until the program is drawn Thursday. But Kentucky-based trainer Dale Romans confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Wiggins would be part of the show.

Wiggins became the most reliable older Illinois-bred dirt horse in training a few years ago, and has managed to hold fairly consistent form - especially when he races in statebred-restricted stakes. He won last year's Milwaukee Avenue Handicap by four lengths, and will be back to defend his title in that race - one of six Illinois-bred stakes - here Saturday.

Wiggins has won five of 10 in Illinois-bred stakes competition, but until last year the Milwaukee Avenue hadn't been kind to him. In 2004, Wiggins was second in the race at odds of 3-5; in 2005, he finished sixth of 11 at odds of 2-1. And when last seen in Chicago, Wiggins was upset as the odds-on favorite in the High Alexander Stakes last fall at Hawthorne. He was badly beaten in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in his final start of 2006, but finished a decent second racing for a $250,000 claiming tag at Gulfstream Park, in his only start this season. Jockey Jerry LaSala is expected to be named to ride Wiggins for the first time.

Tenpointfive, the horse that upset Wiggins last fall, also is among the nominees to the Milwaukee Avenue, but regardless of who else is entered, Wiggins figures to be a solid favorite once again.

While Romans has just the one horse to run, trainer Christine Janks has entrants for four of the six stakes.

Emigh's Derby hopes a longshot

Chris Emigh, the leading rider based year-round in Chicago, has never ridden in a Kentucky Derby, but this year he at least has a chance. Emigh rode Reporting for Duty to a closing second-place finish behind Cowtown Cat in the Illinois Derby, and trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed Wednesday that Emigh would retain the mount should the horse make it into the Derby starting gate. But that's a longshot. While Asmussen said Reporting for Duty would go into the race if the opportunity arose, Reporting for Duty would need several defections to make the race. He currently is tied for 23rd among 3-year-olds in terms of graded stakes earnings, the criteria used to determine which 20 horses earn a spot in the Derby.

Creative Force looks to rebound on turf

The winter didn't go as planned for Creative Force. Maybe spring will be kinder.

Creative Force, a Team Block homebred, won only once in 2006, but flashed serious turf ability at times last year at age 3. His Fair Grounds season got off on the wrong foot, however, when the Woodchopper Stakes, one of the last 3-year-old restricted stakes of the year, was rained off turf. Creative Force finished a distant third in that Dec. 30 start, then was fourth in another rained-off turf race Feb. 3. He finally got into a turf race on March 10, finishing a disappointing sixth, but showed signs of life just eight days later when he was a close fourth in another second-level allowance race in New Orleans.

Now Creative Force is back in Chicago, and though he drew post 8 in Friday's featured seventh race at Hawthorne, a third-level turf allowance, Creative Force is in a position to notch his first win since last May. He was one of eight horses entered for turf in a 1 1/16-mile race that's also open to $40,000 claimers. Wantedtobeagray was entered main-track only.

Creative Force's main rivals are two horses from the barn of trainer Darrell Lundsford - Alpha Tejano and Earths Vain Shadow - plus two more horses entered under the claiming option, Great Bloom and Scooter Roach.