08/09/2005 12:00AM

'Angel' returns to the dirt


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Late runner Expect an Angel may have found a confidence-boosting spot in Thursday's third race at Woodbine, an $80,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on the main track.

Expect an Angel took the Grade 3 Chaposa Springs Handicap over a sloppy track at a shocking 39-1 last December at Calder. She has won just once in nine races since, in a $16,000 starter allowance at Gulfstream on March 4.

After shipping up from Florida, Expect an Angel was a wide sixth in the May 15 Hendrie Handicap in her initial attempt for trainer Mike Doyle. She subsequently ran second in an optional claimer to Fifth Overture, who then captured the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too Stakes, in which Expect an Angel rallied for third after breaking awkwardly.

Expect an Angel never fired most recently, in a seven-furlong optional claimer on the grass. Doyle, who has won at a 12-percent clip with the turf-to-dirt angle since the beginning of 2004, will give a leg up to journeyman James McKnight.

The other possibilities in Thursday's feature are Search the Church, Huntingthetruth, and Menifeeque.

Search the Church was claimed from a troubled runner-up placing July 9 for a hefty $80,000 by Colebrook Farm and trainer Frank Passero Jr. She won her season opener against $62,500 opposition, and then went into a two-race slump.

Passero, who returned to training this year after a sabbatical, has been winning at a very high percentage first time off the claim. He has worked Search the Church five furlongs twice leading up to this engagement. Apprentice Emma Wilson has the mount.

Huntingthetruth was a $75,000 claim on June 25 by owner-trainer John Cardella. She garnered some black type when third in the New Year's Eve Stakes on Dec. 28 at Mountaineer, then resurfaced here May 20 after a layoff, finishing second in a $100,000 optional claimer.

Huntingthetruth has made her last two starts on the grass, running second for $80,000 and fourth in the allowance prep for the Royal North Handicap. Todd Kabel, who won the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes aboard T. D. Vance at Saratoga on Monday, will ride Huntingthetruth for the suspended Jono Jones.

Menifeeque has been laid up since finishing far back in a Feb. 4 optional claimer at Gulfstream, and has been working on a regular basis for her new trainer, Malcolm Pierce.