06/06/2006 12:00AM

Cherokee Jewel takes step back

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - An aggressive move by trainer Tim Hills in Florida put Cherokee Jewel in a very strong position for the $38,000 allowance feature for fillies and mares Thursday at Monmouth Park.

A 3-year-old making only her third start, Cherokee Jewel drops from a second-level allowance race to a first-level allowance at six furlongs on dirt. She faces six rivals.

"She's a horse we have a lot of hopes for," Hills said. "She showed a lot of promise in her first two races."

, a $27,000 purchase last season at the April Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s 2-year-olds sale, made her debut at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 12 and rallied for a 3 3/4-length victory, good for a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

"In Florida, you always get those million-dollar yearlings, and you never know what you're going to hook," Hills said. "She always trained very professionally in company. She was not afraid to eat dirt, and that's how she ran. She was on the rail with nowhere to go. At the top of the lane, she just pushed aside a horse that was hemming her in. It was like she had already run several times."

Cherokee Jewel jumped two levels for the next race April 7, leaping into a second-level allowance sprint on the turf. After an awkward start and steadying on the turn, Cherokee Jewel charged home to miss by a head in a four-horse field.

The class drop combined with the turf-to-dirt angle makes Cherokee Jewel a solid play in this spot.

"She almost acts older than her years," Hills said. "She's like a 4-year-old instead of a 3-year-old."

is one of only two 4-year-olds in the race. Most recently she rallied from 10 lengths off the pace to miss by a length against $35,000 claimers at Aqueduct. She has shown speed in the past and adds blinkers Thursday, a sign that she may be put into play sooner.

Both and Tale of Two Kittys won their maiden at Monmouth on May 21. Sister Silver scored by 6 3/4 lengths and earned a 79 Beyer. Tale of Two Kittys overcame some early bumping and a five-wide trip to win by two lengths and earn a 74 Beyer.