02/28/2007 1:00AM

After delay, Sutra gets season started


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Grade 1 winner Sutra will get her 3-year-old season under way at Oaklawn Park on Friday when she starts in the featured ninth race, an optional claimer at six furlongs. It will be her first start since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 4.

"We were just looking for a race to get her back into action, and this is what came up," said Michael Stidham, who trains Sutra for Stonerside Stable and Oakcrest Farm.

Sutra, winner of the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont last October, vanned out of her Fair Grounds base for Hot Springs on Wednesday morning. She is making her seasonal debut later than planned, because she took ill last fall at Fair Grounds.

"She was doing real good, then all of the sudden she got real sick on us," said Stidham. "It was definitely a stomach issue that we never really knew what was going on. But she didn't go downhill on us, and we were able to just stop training and treat her, and she recovered okay from it.

"After a few weeks of doing nothing, and her starting to bounce back, we put her back in light training and she steadily worked her way back to racing fitness."

Sutra shows a strong series of works for the optional claimer, and she won her maiden at the race's six-furlong distance. Sutra closed from 10 lengths back that day, but figures to be closer to the pace Friday, when she will be ridden by Eddie Razo.

"In her first race, when she came from so far back, that had everything to do with the break," said Stidham. "She broke in the air.

"I don't expect her to be real far back in this race coming up. I think if she breaks okay, she should be somewhat midpack and then hopefully be running down the lane and be able to get it done."

Sutra rallied from eighth to win the Frizette, but finished ninth to front-running winner Dreaming of Anna in the Juvenile Fillies

"The way the race set up, if you weren't pretty close up, it didn't look like you had much of a shot," said Stidham. "With her style, it really didn't set up well."

Stidham is well pleased with Sutra's fitness and attitude for her comeback race Friday.

"She's happy and training well, and kicking her heels up on the track every morning," he said.

Also in the six-horse field is Floral Park, a first-level allowance winner for trainer Dallas Stewart.