03/29/2004 1:00AM

Baby goat puts 'Caviar' in good mood


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Happy, content horses win races, and Caviar Emptor has been thrilled with the bundle of joy that came into her life the first week of February. The new baby is not hers, but she is hosting a mother goat and her infant. The pair has found a home with Caviar Emptor, and the situation could translate into a strong performance from the filly in the featured ninth race Wednesday at Oaklawn Park.

Caviar Emptor is a leading contender in the 1 1/16-mile allowance for fillies and mares that carries an $80,000 claiming option. Others in the race include stakes winners Salzurita and Lake Kinneret.

Goats are placed in the stalls of some horses to have a calming effect on them, but that was not the case with Caviar Emptor. When another horse rejected the mother goat and her baby, they found a home with the filly.

"She doesn't need a goat," said Randy Oberlander, who trains Caviar Emptor for Clark Brewster. "It makes her happier. I'm sure it breaks up some of the boredom. She'll put her head down and eat hay with them."

Caviar Emptor is making her third start back from a layoff on Wednesday. She ran fourth in a Feb. 13 money allowance two races ago in her first start since November, and returned to finish second, beaten a length, in another allowance at Oaklawn on March 11.

Since that race, Caviar Emptor worked four furlongs in a sharp 47.80 seconds March 25.

"I think she's up to a top effort," said Oberlander. "She improved last time, and has really been doing well in between races. She's at a point now where she's just really happy."

Tim Doocy has the mount on Caviar Emptor, who has won five races from 17 starts. She has a versatile running style, and judging from her fast work, she should be closer to the pace Wednesday.

"She's the kind of horse who can do about what you want her to do," said Oberlander. "She can sit back, and she's won races on the lead if there was no pace."

Salzurita could show early speed. She has been freshened after a fifth-place finish against optional claiming rivals in the slop on Feb. 29, and since that race has worked a bullet four furlongs in 47.80 seconds March 24.

Another starter who will be well supported is Blu Spur, who moves back to dirt, surface of one of the best races of her career. She is making her first start since October and will be ridden by leading jockey John McKee.