02/19/2008 1:00AM

Clay's Angel back from her layoff


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Clay's Angel might be the least experienced starter in Thursday's featured ninth race at Oaklawn Park, but she is one of the most accomplished members of the field. A winner of 3 of 6 starts, she will take on stakes winner Annie Savoy in the $40,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Clay's Angel has been a quick study. She won her debut at Delaware Park last June, then followed with two more victories in her next three starts, both in allowances at Delaware. Thursday, she will be making her first start since Oct. 12, when she finished an uncharacteristic seventh in the $78,000 Life's Magic at seven furlongs at Belmont Park.

"We took to her to New York for that stakes up there, and that was probably a pretty aggressive spot," said Larry Jones, who trains Clay's Angel. "That race came up really tough, and she came out of it with a little bit of a knee issue and just needed some rest. So, we sent her back to the farm and this is her first race back.

"She's training well, and we're looking forward to her getting back in action."

Clay's Angel has turned consecutive bullet workouts for her return, going five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Oaklawn on Feb. 7 and the same distance in 1:00.20 on Feb. 14. For her comeback, Clay's Angel will break from post 2 under Joe Johnson. She could get a tracking trip off front-runners Gita, Precious Zeal, and Goldinthepocket.

"She'll be close," said Jones. "She's going to be right up there pushing the pace unless they've just got something in there that's really, really fast."

Clay's Angel, who is a 4-year-old filly by Gulch, races for her breeder, Charles Giles.

The chief threat through the lane could be Annie Savoy, who in her last start closed well to win the $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on Dec. 1. That six-furlong race was restricted to Texas-breds, but Annie Savoy beat a pair of open-company stakes winners that night in Wrenice, a winner of $389,046, and Valid Lil, who is 7 for 10.

Annie Savoy earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 86, which is the best last-race number in the field Thursday. She could get another good pace to run down here, and will break from post 4 under Larry Sterling Jr. Kari Craddock trains Annie Savoy for her breeder, Hal Browning.