03/07/2003 12:00AM

Emily Ring bids for four stakes in row

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Emily Ring will spot each of her rivals eight pounds when she goes for her fourth straight stakes victory Sunday in the $50,000 Spring Fever Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The 5 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares drew a field of 10.

Emily Ring, who is weighted at 121 pounds under the allowance conditions of the race, has been razor-sharp this winter. She started her streak on Dec. 7 by winning the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural by three lengths at Turfway Park. Emily Ring next took the $75,000 New Year's Eve Handicap at Mountaineer Park by 1 1/2 lengths, and in her last start won the $50,000 American Beauty here by 3 1/4 lengths.

While Emily Ring may end up controlling the pace of Sunday's race, she will face more front-runners than she did in her last start.

"She doesn't have to be on the lead to win, I don't think" said Blackie Huffman, who trains Emily Ring. "She's getting older now, and she's a little more settled, and I don't think she has to be in front.

"I mean, if she's in front, we'll leave her alone, but if she's not, we won't panic."

James Lopez, who is a perfect 3 for 3 on Emily Ring, will ride.

Huffman also will start Dominica, who was second in an optional claimer at Oaklawn Feb. 5, her first start in five months. She has since worked a bullet four furlongs in 48.60 seconds at Oaklawn.

"She comes from a little bit off the pace," said Huffman. "They both have different running styles, but are both quality fillies and have an equal chance."

Joe Johnson, who won a race a day at Oaklawn for six straight days from Feb. 20 to March 1 with just 13 mounts, will be aboard Dominica for Kiowa Stable.

Southern Tour could go off second choice in the Spring Fever. She was second to Emily Ring last out in the American Beauty, her first start since June 22.

"I think we'll see a better effort from her," said trainer Cole Norman. "We thought we had her a little tighter than she was."

Since the race, Southern Tour has worked five furlongs. Terry Thompson will ride Southern Tour, whose biggest career win came last year in the $100,000 Carousel at Oaklawn.

Powder to be bred to Deputy Minister

Powder, who wired the field in the Spring Fever last year for owner Virginia Kraft Payson, has been retired and is being bred to Deputy Minister, said trainer Sonny Wigginton.

Wigginton's hope for the Spring Fever this year is Steaming Home, who finished third in a local allowance in her first start in two months Feb. 9.

"She's a stakes winner in Ireland," said Wigginton. "It's a tough race, but she's tough herself."

Beau's Town to start at Fair Grounds

Norman said Beau's Town, who won the $50,000 King Cotton here in his first start in eight months, will make his next start March 16 in the $150,000 Pelleteri Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds.

He is then scheduled to return to Oaklawn for the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet on April 10.

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