03/03/2006 1:00AM

Father and son have top two

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainers Don Von Hemel and Kelly Von Hemel, who are father and son, appear to have the leading contenders in the featured ninth race Sunday at Oaklawn Park.

"I hope it comes down to us two," said Kelly Von Hemel, who will start probable favorite Semaphore Man.

Don Von Hemel has Carroll County, who has won 3 of 6 career starts at Oaklawn. Others in the field are Skin Flint, Been Wavering, Tricky Devil, and Silver Zipper.

ran a career race in his last start, when he won a six-furlong allowance in 1:10.20. For his effort, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 102. Since then, Carroll County has worked sharply at Oaklawn, his latest move being five furlongs in 1:00.40 on March 1.

"He's doing really good," said Kelly Von Hemel. "He's training great."

Semaphore Man, a grand-looking son of Formal Gold, will break from gate 5 in the field of six. In his previous start, he also broke outside of his rivals, from gate 11.

"I think we got a good post again," Von Hemel said. "Hopefully, we'll be laying right off of them and go from there."

Kendrick Carmouche has the mount on Semaphore Man.

Carroll County cuts back to one turn after finishing second by a nose in an optional claiming race. He set the pace in that race, and could be coming late on Sunday.

, a son of Wild Rush, has raced exclusively at Oaklawn, and his three wins here have all come at six furlongs. Terry Thompson has the mount on the horse, who will be making his third start back from a layoff.

Promising field could produce stakes fillies

A promising field of 11 has been entered in the 10th race, an optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Triple It, Gilded Rose, Morner, and Les Ry Leigh all come off of maiden wins, while Noriska Number One was a starter winner last out at Santa Anita.

makes her first start since November, when she won her maiden by 3 1/2 lengths over Ermine, who has since won her maiden this meet. Lynn Whiting trains Triple It, and has given the mount to Calvin Borel.

Morner was an impressive maiden winner in her last start, when she drew off by 6 1/2 lengths and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 83. Trainer David Vance has given the mount to Stewart Elliott.