04/02/2006 11:00PM

Chukkaluk in position to rally


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Elliecat is the one to beat and Chukkaluk is the one to fear on Wednesday in the featured ninth race at Oaklawn Park. A six-furlong starter allowance, the race is restricted to fillies and mares who have started for a claiming price and who have never won two races. A win by either Elliecat or Chukkaluk will make a March 9 starter a key race. The sixth-place finisher from that race, Two Dime Limit, came back to win here Sunday.

was second in the starter March 9, and Chukkaluk was fourth. For this race, Elliecat will remove blinkers, a high percentage move for her trainer, Cole Norman. Chukkaluk, meanwhile, drew gate 6, which pleased her trainer, Kelly Von Hemel.

In her last start, broke from the rail and set the pace before being overtaken by winner Acajou.

"I like the post position on the outside," said Von Hemel. "We can kind of do whatever we want out there. We've been trying to get her to relax more, where she'll finish a little better for us. With our post position, we can hopefully have that luxury, that she'll lay a little off of them and finish a little stronger."

Von Hemel said he liked how Chukkaluk finished when she won her maiden in a special weight race at Hawthorne Race Course in November. He said he hopes to see a similar performance on Wednesday.

Tim Doocy has the mount on Chukkaluk. He returned to race riding late last month after being forced to the sidelines with a fractured pelvis. Doocy was injured in a starting gate accident on July 21, when he was aboard Chukkaluk. Since returning to action, Doocy has been hot, winning with 4 of 19 starters this meet at Oaklawn.

Chukkaluk is by Mutakddim, and races for Dream Walkin Farms and Tonni Covel. Von Hemel sent out a Mutakddim filly to win her debut here Sunday and also won with a colt by Mutakddim earlier this meet at Oaklawn.

Jamie Theriot has the mount on Elliecat. She was second by a neck in the March 9 starter, and before that was third by two lengths in an optional claimer at Oaklawn. Norman has won 50 percent of the time when removing blinkers with his starters. Elliecat won her maiden last October at Keeneland.

* There is a $32,975 pick-six carryover for Wednesday.