01/08/2004 12:00AM

'Emily' coming off defeat at odds-on


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Blackie Huffman is a no-nonsense trainer, the type who refuses to make excuses when his horses are beaten.

"If I got one, I keep it to myself," he said.

So horseplayers are on their own in their analysis of Emily Ring in Saturday's $50,000 Wishing Well Stakes at Turfway Park. She was far off her game at Turfway on Dec. 26, when she finished third at 3-10 odds in an allowance prep for the Wishing Well, but Huffman says she is doing well and is ready for another try.

Emily will have to turn the tables on Senorita Ziggy and Ballado's Halo, two Wishing Well entrants who beat her on Dec. 26. She must return to the form she displayed at Churchill Downs in the fall, when she was twice the runner-up in money allowance races, behind stakes-winning fillies Brown Eyed Beauty and Vicki Vallencourt.

Those were not Emily Ring's only top races. Over a three-month stretch, from December 2002 to February 2003, she won three consecutive stakes: the Holiday Inaugural at Turfway, the New Year's Eve Handicap at Mountaineer, and the American Beauty at Oaklawn.

Then in the spring of last year, she became sick and was forced to be away from the races for over five months.

"We never did find out what was wrong with her," Huffman said. "They called it a blood disorder, but we were never able to tell what it definitively was."

Before her last race, Emily Ring seemed to be rounding back into form. Willie Martinez rides Emily Ring, a winner of over $342,000 for Mike Anderson Thoroughbreds.

In addition to Senorita Ziggy and Ballado's Halo, Saratoga Humor, a recent stakes winner, will challenge Emily Ring. After winning one of five races at age 2, Saratoga Humor elevated her game as a 3-year-old in 2003, winning three of eight starts. She ended last year on a positive note by defeating multiple stakes winner Born to Dance to win the New Year's Eve Handicap at Mountaineer on Dec. 30.

"She was a big filly that was a little bit immature," said trainer Joe Cain of the slow start to Saratoga Humor's career.

Saratoga Humor benefited from carrying only 110 pounds in the New Year's Eve Handicap. Under the conditions of the Wishing Well, she carries high weight of 122 pounds and spots her nine opponents six pounds apiece. Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano rides.

Class jumpers Silver Sonnet and Kitty Carson also merit attention. Although untested in stakes, they both come off wins and own among the top last-race Beyer Speed Figures in the field.