02/17/2004 1:00AM

Fast rivals will push Emily Ring


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Emily Ring, a multiple stakes-winning mare, might have to hold off a couple of 4-year-old fillies, My Trusty Cat and Feisty Princess, to win the featured ninth race Thursday at Oaklawn Park.

A six-furlong allowance for fillies and mares, the race drew a stakes-caliber field of eight and should produce a few starters for the $50,000 Spring Fever on March 7.

Emily Ring has used her speed to win 8 of 31 starts and $357,125. In her last race, she was third in the $50,000 American Beauty at Oaklawn on Feb. 7.

Emily Ring won that race last year using wire-to-wire tactics, and with the drop in class to the allowance ranks Thursday, she figures to once again be prominent from the start. Trainer Blackie Huffman has given the mount on Emily Ring to Willie Martinez.

Feisty Princess, a daughter of Indian Charlie, has placed in both of her stakes starts and will be making her first start since September.

"She's ready to run," said Steve Hobby, who trains Feisty Princess for Cresran LLC. "She was second here in her first out last year and has really gone on to be a nice filly. She's got a lot of future."

Feisty Princess won her maiden in her second career start last April at Oaklawn, then returned to beat winners one start later in an optional claimer at Hawthorne. From there, Feisty Princess ran third in the $75,000 Real Delite at Arlington Park. In her most recent start, she was third in the $47,000 Smart Deb, also at Arlington.

Hobby looks for her to be stalking the pace and has given the mount to Tim Doocy.

Apprentice Justin Shepherd has the mount on My Trusty Cat, who will add blinkers for trainer David Vance. The last time she added blinkers, My Trusty Cat won the $75,000 Honeybee Stakes over eventual Grade 2 Fantasy winner Ruby's Reception at Oaklawn.

My Trusty Cat is returning from a layoff and will be making her first start since she finished fifth in the $49,000 My Charmer at 1 1/16 miles Dec. 6 at Turfway. My Trusty Cat has been working sharply for the cutback to one turn. She went four furlongs in 47 seconds Feb. 9, then worked the same distance back in a bullet 48.20 seconds Feb. 16.

In addition to Emily Ring, there are a couple of other speed horses in the allowance. Gilded Wins and My Meow both figure to be on or pushing the pace Thursday.