09/03/2007 11:00PM

Familiar pattern points to Mary Abbott

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times - let's not even go there.

Not that Michelle Boyce was trying to fool anyone, but she did sweep the first two races on Saturday at Arlington with horses who combined for a daily double payoff of about $130. Landers paid at 7-1 in the opener, a $14,000 claimer, and El Condor was 5-1 winning race 2. A major common denominator? Both horses had last raced much earlier in the meet, and were clearly fresh and well meant for what figured to be their final start at Arlington.

So, we might have missed Landers, El Condor might have slipped past us, but let us not overlook Mary Abbott in the first race on Thursday at Arlington. Mary Abbott was one of six fillies entered in a second-level Illinois-bred allowance race carded for six furlongs on Polytrack, a race that's the highest-class fare on the Thursday program.

El Condor had been off since May, Landers since June, and Mary Abbott hasn't started since July 20, when she won an Illinois-bred entry-level allowance in just her second try at the condition. In fact, Mary Abbott's form took a leap forward as soon as she switched to Polytrack, and she turned in a pair of fast August five-furlong works prepping for her return to the races.

It's not just the Boyce-after-layoff angle that makes Mary Abbott look appealing. She rallied from ninth place to win last time, and with Little Star, Mytak, and Gita all entered in the Thursday opener, the early pace of the race can hardly help being quick.

Those three fillies squared off on Aug. 16 and July 25, with Little Star having performed the most consistently. She was second by a neck in the July 25 race, and third by almost three Aug. 16, but that most recent start came at 6 1/2 furlongs, and at this point, the six-furlong trip might be better for Little Star. Her trainer, Chris Block, is adding blinkers Thursday, but Little Star did not fare well at the draw, landing the rail position. Eddie Razo is charged with working out some sort of trip.

Gita held well for second ahead of Little Star last time, but is subject to regression after that peak effort.

Boyce, Arlington players may be interested to know, also has a horse in race 7, a nonwinners-of-two turf-sprint claimer. And that horse, Frankie R., has that same pattern noted above: A race July 19, a layoff, a couple works in August, and a spot he appears to fit.