02/25/2003 1:00AM

Blinkers may be key for Wish It Were


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Stakes winners A New Twist and Chamrousse are the name horses in Thursday's $40,000 third-level optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park, but the horse to beat in the six-furlong race may be Wish It Were.

Wish It Were, a 4-year-old daughter of Is It True, comes off a fifth-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint here on Jan. 25. Wish It Were broke slowly and was 10 lengths off the early pace. Despite coming six wide into the stretch, Wish It Were made up three lengths of a 4 1/2-length deficit in the final furlong.

Afterward, jockey Eibar Coa suggested trainer Timmy Hills put blinkers on the filly. Hills did, and Wish It Were responded with a best-of-27 half-mile breeze in 47 seconds on Feb. 9. Wish It Were will wear blinkers in a race for the first time Thursday.

"Coa said she broke and she sucked herself back," Hills said. "She was, like, asleep and he chose not to whoop-de-do her. He strongly suggested blinkers and that's what we went with. This is the first correct spot she's been in since we came back off the layoff."

Wish It Were won three of the first four starts of her career including Monmouth Park's Dearly Precious Stakes June 30. But she developed splint problems after that race and has only run three times since.

Chamrousse, last year's Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner, makes her first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont last July. Chamrousse came out of that race with a chip in a hind ankle that was surgically removed.

Though Chamrousse is 2 for 2 at six furlongs, trainer Niall O'Callaghan would have preferred to run her in a route race, but none for which Chamrousse is eligible would fill.

"He doesn't have the population for a three-other-than going long," O'Callaghan said, referring to racing secretary Dave Bailey. "She has run well fresh over six furlongs in her first two career starts, although it's not her best gig."

Like Chamrousse, A New Twist had her 3-year-old season interrupted by injury, a chip in a knee suffered in a Grade 1 race in July. However, A New Twist has already made her comeback, finishing second to Mooji Moo on Jan. 17. Silk Concorde, the third-place finisher, came back to win.

"My horse was in desperate need of her last race," trainer John Kimmel said.

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