08/22/2005 12:00AM

Wildcat Heir vanning in for Arlington BC Sprint

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CHICAGO - Wildcat Heir, whose connections harbor hopes of a start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, is shipping to Chicago for Saturday's Arlington Breeders' Cup Sprint.

While it has become common practice to fly even mid-level stakes horses around the country, Wildcat Heir is traveling the old-fashioned way - by van.

"He's going to leave this afternoon," said trainer Ben Perkins Jr. on Monday. "He shipped by van to Kentucky last season, and from Monmouth it's only about 100 miles farther to Chicago. The flight schedules aren't that good. The FedEx flight that people were talking about taking only goes to Indianapolis."

Wildcat Heir could walk here from New Jersey, and he still would look pretty good in the Arlington Sprint. Ben Perkins Sr. won the race in 1996 with Ft. Stockton, and the Perkinses have regularly come up with top-class sprinters, such as Wildcat Heir's sire, Forest Wildcat. Lightly raced at age 5, Wildcat Heir might be in the same league. Various injuries have limited Wildcat Heir to 11 starts, but he won the Grade 1 De Francis Dash last November. A foot bruise over the winter and a curbed hock in the spring pushed back Wildcat Heir's 2005 debut to Aug. 7; he came back running, winning the $100,000 Teddy Drone by almost six lengths on Haskell Day at Monmouth.

Perkins said he hopes to use Saturday's race as a stepping-stone to the Vosburgh Handicap at Belmont. If the horse does well, it would be on to the Breeders' Cup.

First, Wildcat Heir will have to deal with a solid field at Arlington. Fire Slam might come from Kentucky, and local standout Fifteen Rounds sits waiting at Arlington. Hasty Kris, who scratched from Sunday's Pat O'Brien at Del Mar, was expected to ship in from California but is also entered in Wednesday's Del Mar feature. Other possible starters are Elusive Jazz, Premium Saltine, and Rodeo's Castle.

Miss Matched emerging for Ward

When the Arlington meet began, trainer John Ward had three stakes-class 3-year-old fillies stabled at Arlington, and Miss Matched resided at the bottom of the pecking order. As of this week, however, For All We Know has flopped in a pair of Grade 1 stakes, Seek a Star has gone to the sidelines after a disappointing race in the Grade 1 Acorn, and Miss Matched has a pair of six-figure stakes wins on her resume, the Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill and Saturday's $100,000 Arlington Oaks.

"Pretty hickory, isn't she?" Ward said. "It's always nice when you have one that keeps improving for you."

Miss Matched finished sixth last year in her only route race, but now has won both her starts around two turns this season and easily handled the nine furlongs of the local Oaks.

"I'm pleased she likes the two turns, and it does surprise me she likes that more than a flat mile," said Ward.

Ward said he has no specific agenda for Miss Matched, but he and owner John Oxley were to meet this week to discuss plans for various horses. "I'd imagine she'd be at the top of the list," Ward said.

Ward also said that the 2-year-old colt Strong Contender had come out of an impressive maiden win here with sore shins.

"It might be a little bit before we go back with him," said Ward. "He's in training, but we'll see how he progresses. We were extremely happy with the race, which would make us even more cautious. His future is all in front of him, and we don't want to do anything to compromise that."

Shaconage disqualified from purse

Shaconage, who won the Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf Stakes on Saturday, has been disqualified from the purse money she earned for finishing second here in the July 23 Modesty Handicap. Shaconage tested positive for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, which is prohibited on race day. Trainer Mitch Shirota was fined $1,000 for the offense. Both penalties are under appeal, according to Arlington Park stewards.

- The veteran rider Randy Meier is temporarily out of action with a hairline fracture of his right fibula. The injury is relatively minor, and Meier said he hopes to return before Arlington's meet ends Sept. 18.