09/06/2001 11:00PM

Feverish is fairest of the fair

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POMONA, Calif. - Few attractions of the Los Angeles County Fair are more reliable than Feverish, a 6-year-old mare who returns Sunday to one of her favorite stomping grounds - the five-eighths-mile oval of Fairplex Park.

"She's won three of four there, and was second the other time," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "Put it this way, we're not experimenting."

Feverish will try to win the $50,000 E.B. Johnston for the third straight year when she starts as the odds-on favorite against seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile stake for fillies and mares. Feverish's rivals include Cee Dreams, Cee's Elegance, Tutelada, Southern House, She's A Sensation, Dynatrol, and Gleefully. On paper, they are running for second money.

Owned and bred by Marty and Pam Wygod, Feverish has won 12 races and $874,033 from

38 starts, and will be starting for the first time since bruising her feet in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap June 30 at Hollywood Park. She was scheduled to return in an Aug. 24 race at Del Mar, but her trainer scratched her the morning of the race.

"She was acting a little quiet, so we took blood, and it wasn't quite right," Hendricks said. "She wasn't sick, and she didn't have a temperature, but she just wasn't herself."

Feverish worked a half-mile six days after the scheduled comeback and followed with a strong seven-furlong work Sept. 3. "She's doing super, her blood's back to normal, and she's training super," Hendricks said.

Under the allowance conditions, Feverish gets into the E.B. Johnston with 114 pounds. Although the race is positioned as a prep for the meet's filly-mare championship, the Las Madrinas Handicap on Sept. 21, Hendricks plans to start Feverish just once at Fairplex, then aim for a bigger pot - the Grade 2, $200,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita.

The timing of the Lady's Secret, eight days after the Las Madrinas, precludes Feverish from running in both. Hendricks said it makes sense for Feverish to prep in the E.B. Johnston. "It's only $50,000, but she gets in with 114, and maybe it'll give her some confidence," he said. "If she ran in the (Las Madrinas), she'd have to carry 121 or 122."

A win Sunday would be Feverish's fourth in a Fairplex stakes and put her in elite company. Only eight other horses have won four or more stakes here.