12/14/2004 1:00AM

Wrzeszcz might not be set for best


Turf-sprint stakes aren't easy to find. There is one on Thursday at Fair Grounds, but they're calling it an allowance race.

The featured ninth, at about 5 1/2 furlongs over the Fair Grounds grass, is a jewel of a race, glittering with stakes-level talent, and plenty of it. A full field of 12 plus one also-eligible went in. There are no conditions and the $38,000 purse is smaller than this group merits.

"Fair Grounds has no middle level," said trainer Tom Amoss, who has been here long enough to know. "You're going to get the best of the best in a race like this."

Amoss entered two in the race, though Special Fame is stuck on the also-eligible list and probably overmatched if he draws in. Not so Wrzeszcz, the 3-year-old Langfuhr gelding named after an unpronounceable Polish village: Amoss suggests something like "Rizzich," adding, "I really don't know how to say it."

He does know the horse can run. hasn't raced since Aug. 23, when he impressively won a turf-sprint at Ellis Park, blazing 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01. Wrzeszcz had been fighting sore shins since May, and improvement on grass made Amoss take stock.

"That day he went from looking like a horse that might go through his allowance conditions to something better," said Amoss, who called owner Richard Colton and told him so. "I said we should treat him like a good horse."

Wrzeszcz shows only one published work for Thursday's race, and Amoss concedes the comeback is a point of departure.

"This is probably not going to be his best race," he said.

Away even longer has been , who first showed his talent for turf sprints a few years ago on this course. Also entered are old-timers Bonapaw, who ran poorly in a Nov. 3 comeback at Delta Downs, and the 10-year-old Proven Cure, an easy dirt winner last out at Lone Star.

Bettors also cannot look past Chosen Chief, another turf-sprint specialist, or the lightning-fast Western Roar, second by a neck last time out in the $63,000 Cherokee Run, a Churchill turf-sprint stakes.

"He is quick, but he's manageable," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "We won't be kidding ourselves after this race about how good he is."