12/17/2004 1:00AM

In December, 'Getcozy' fits

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STICKNEY, Ill. - Go to a major race meet in the spring or summer, and a lower-level allowance race is a stair on a ladder, a portal of hope for an eager owner.

At Hawthorne in winter, however, the stepladder metaphor often used to describe allowance conditions breaks down. High-quality young horses on the rise don't often come around here. Reformed claimers and claimers to be comprise the bulk of Hawthorne allowance races in December. Get a horse on the right track, even a horse of middling quality, and you're liable to knock out an allowance condition or two.

This is just the case in Sunday's featured seventh race, a second-level, filly-and-mare, six-furlong allowance. Getcozywithkaylee was an age-restricted $16,000 claimer a couple months ago; now she has a legitimate chance to win her second straight allowance race. Gold Spike barely won a $17,500 nonwinners-of-two claimer on Nov. 10, but two weeks ago crushed entry-level Illinois-bred allowance horses, and is not overmatched jumping into an open second-level allowance.

resides in the barn of trainer Emma Schwan, who has won more races at this meet (six) than she did in the rest of 2004 (five). Getcozywithkaylee has one-third of Schwan's Hawthorne's victories, having easily taken a Nov. 10 entry-level allowance three weeks after beating 3-year-old $16,000 claimers.

"It seemed like she matured," Schwan said. "You could see her getting bigger and stronger. She just kind of grew up all of a sudden."

Getcozywithkaylee was entered in a race similar to this one three weeks ago, but Schwan, playing it safe with her stable star, scratched the filly when she coughed just before the race.

"I had a couple of them doing that, and I didn't want to ruin her," said Schwan, who trains Getcozywith-kaylee for owner William Logue. "It was nothing serious. She worked a couple times, and we're hoping she runs well. She should, since she's been doing good."

Gold Spike, meanwhile, has also risen to the best form of her career, and she was notably sharp in her win over statebred horses here Dec. 3. Gold Spike, from the barn of trainer Andy Hansen, has risen quickly to this peak, however, and sometimes a hot horse goes down as quickly as she came up.

If the Hawthorne racing surface is frozen and playing to inside speed, bettors must consider Paul's Dream, who has speed and post 2, and Mary Swan, a quick filly leaving from post 3.