11/25/2003 12:00AM

'Bridget' returns from layoff


ALBANY, Calif. - Miss Bridget Jones, who will be making her first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks in June, will vie for favoritism with Devil Dancing in Golden Gate Fields' Thanksgiving feature, a six-furlong, $80,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares.

Miss Bridget Jones, one of several 3-year-olds in the field of seven, won the first three starts of her career before she lost in the Hollywood Oaks. She won her debut last December at Hollywood, and after a four-month layoff went to Lone Star where she won an allowance race and the $150,000 Stonerside. Miss Bridget Jones is the expected pacesetter in Thursday's race, but because it will be her first start in five months, there are questions about her conditioning.

Devil Dancing, second in the Camilla Urso on Nov. 9 after a nearly eight-month layoff, has won 5 of 11 starts, and has 3 wins and 2 seconds in 6 starts at Golden Gate Fields. She won a $62,500 optional claimer here on March 16 and was second in the Camilla Urso behind one of the most talented runners on the grounds, Ema Bovary. Devil Dancing returned with an excellent 1:00.40 five-furlong work on Saturday, doing it so easily the workout was labeled "breezing" instead of "handily."

"She's a very consistent type, but when you win you have to step up to explore new territory," said her trainer, Greg Gilchist, who also nominated her for Saturday's Star Ball at 1 1/16 miles. "I would just as soon have a few more days, but, as far as training, she's doing very well."

Another contender in the field is Kona Queen, a sharp claimer who has won 8 of 21 starts and $212,104 - tops in the field - and is one of only two entered for the $80,000 claiming tag. She might be the most proven commodity, having hit the board in each of her last six starts.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will run two stakes winners, Christmas Time and Viansa Ossidiana.

Christmas Time won her first two starts then finished second in a stakes race as a 2-year-old last year at Arlington Park. She pressed the pace before fading behind Buffythecenterfold at Santa Anita in her 3-year-old debut.

In her first northern California start, Christmas Time won the Emeryville Handicap at Bay Meadows, but she has finished better than fourth in only one of her five starts since.