11/22/2004 12:00AM

Dutchie tries to duplicate huge win


CHICAGO - A half-length lead on the far turn opened to five at the top of the stretch, and Dutchie was not done yet. At the finish she had almost three seconds on her nearest pursuer. Dutchie had smashed a field of $14,000 claiming horses - and earned herself a major class hike on Wednesday at Hawthorne.

Dutchie, her moribund career revived by the recent blowout win, was one of seven horses entered in the sixth race, a third-level allowance with a $35,000 claiming option. Dutchie and Jo Me the Money run for the tag; the other four are in under allowance conditions.

An Illinois-bred trained by Michele Boyce, Dutchie has made just 12 starts as she approaches her 5-year-old season. From the start, she mixed obvious talent with physical setbacks. When Dutchie won her career debut last season at Hawthorne, it was an emotional moment for Boyce, who had wondered if Dutchie could even make the races.

But after clearing her second and last Illinois-bred allowance condition last Dec. 3, Dutchie went cold. She lost four times between February and May, showing little of her former spark, then went to the sidelines for almost six months. There was no overt sign of a renaissance when she returned this fall. Dutchie was choppy and ineffective when she ran Oct. 6, and looked little better three weeks later for an $18,000 claiming price. Dutchie appeared to be falling off the map.

Was it the same chestnut filly reaching out powerfully through the stretch here Nov. 11? On an unusually dull racetrack, Dutchie ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.80, a notably fast time, and far above par for the class level. In fact, Dutchie, has always seemed more like a route horse than a sprinter, lending weight to the idea that her form will carry over into Wednesday's race.

Dutchie will have to outrun Code of Ethics, the possible favorite, for the early lead. Code of Ethics exits a five-length win in the $43,000 Summertime Promise Stakes here Oct. 23, a turf race that was rained onto a sloppy main track. But that overnight stakes was little more than a glorified second-level allowance race, and one restricted to 3-year-olds. Code of Ethics made an easy lead that day; it can't happen again with Dutchie involved.

Cloudy's Knight earns some time off

Cloudy's Knight, bouncing back from a subpar effort in a Churchill Downs allowance race, finished second by a half-length Sunday in the Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill. Trainer Frank Kirby has been saying for several months that he thinks Cloudy's Knight is graded stakes material on turf. He appears to have a point.

"He ran a hell of a race yesterday," Kirby said. "I still don't think we've reached the bottom of him."

Kirby winters in Illinois, and without a long journey, Cloudy's Knight will have nowhere to run for months. The horse's campaign has been busy in any case, and Cloudy's Knight is likely to spend the next couple of months away from the racetrack.

"I think we'll stop on him now and give him a couple months to freshen up," said Kirby. "He's an awful big horse. We'd like to see him get a little stronger and hopefully come back even better in the spring."

Emigh takes a holiday

Leading rider Chris Emigh is visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday and won't ride on Wednesday. His agent, Jay Fedor, said Emigh would return to action Friday.

Through Sunday, Emigh had 51 wins at the meet, 10 more than Larry Sterling, a clear second in the jockey standings.

* Hawthorne doesn't race on Thanksgiving, though the track will be open for simulcasting. The track has switched to a four-day race week, and Thursdays will be dark the rest of the season.