08/03/2004 12:00AM

Drop may aid Sue's Good News


CHICAGO - It has been almost a year since Sue's Good News made headlines. In fact, it has been just as long since she won a race.

"I'd like to get her a win," said trainer Steve Hobby. "It's been a long time."

Hobby has tried different racetracks, various distances, and myriad feed programs - all to no avail. Now he is taking another approach, dropping into an allowance race for the first time in nine starts. She runs Thursday at Arlington in the featured fifth, which has two allowance conditions and a $100,000 claiming option that lets Gracility and Cashmere Miss, two of six entrants, into the seven-furlong race.

The condition under which Sue's Good News runs, nonwinners of a race in 2004, is surprising. Sue's Good News, a bargain yearling purchase in 2001, won the first four starts of her career in 2003, and last Aug. 9, after a disappointment in the Delaware Oaks, Sue's Good News impressively won the Grade 3 Singapore Plate Handicap here.

It was her last victory. Sue's Good News has since finished seventh, sixth, fifth, third, fifth, and fourth - the last one a decent loss in a $75,000 Ellis Park stakes race. She has never had one major physical setback, only a seemingly infinite number of smaller ones.

"She's been frustrating," Hobby said. "It's been one thing after another with her. She's got so much natural ability. She could've made three times what she has."

Now, Sue's Good News is running for a $40,000 purse, and she is no cinch. Hobby says he hopes Sue's Good News will appreciate a turn back in distance to seven furlongs.

"I don't know that she really wants to go two turns this year," he said.

Trainer Greg Geier, however, is certain Princess Pelona will handle two turns, and she is the one Sue's Good News has to watch.

barely got out of a strong gallop when she last raced, but that last-place finish came over 1 1/8 miles on a yielding turf course and was Princess Pelona's first start on grass. On dirt, she was fourth in the $75,000 Estrapade about two months ago, but that was another 1 1/8-mile race.

"She doesn't want to go that far," Geier said. "A mile and an eighth is a little too much for her. At seven-eighths, she should be fine."

Neither Sue's Good News nor Princess Pelona really has sprint speed, but all four of the others possess some pace. Among them, Cashmere Miss, who hit her peak form this time last year, may have the best chance at an upset Thursday.