06/16/2003 11:00PM

Finally, Sue's Good News returns

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CHICAGO - A horseman always needs a backup plan. Or two. Or three.

The trainer Steve Hobby has gotten down to Plan D with Sue's Good News, the unbeaten 3-year-old filly who through ill luck and bad timing hasn't raced since the Oaklawn meet in April.

Finally - finally! - Sue's Good News returns. Hobby entered her Monday in a third-level allowance race, Arlington's Thursday feature.

"This wasn't even in the plans," Hobby said Thursday. "I have to run her somewhere."

Hobby's not happy that Sue's Good News must race against older horses, but she should warm to the challenge. In fact, Sue's Good News could use a challenge. She won her debut race March 2 by almost 10 lengths, cruised to an allowance win three weeks later, and made a mockery of the difficult jump from sprints to a route with a 5 1/2-length victory in the $70,000 Instant Racing Breeders' Cup April 12 at Oaklawn.

"She looks like the real deal," Hobby said before this meet began.

Sue's Good News was to have shipped to Churchill last month for the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes, but that trip was scrapped when she caught a minor virus days before the race. Grudgingly, Hobby decided to return Sue's Good News to a sprint in the Real Delight here, but she tied up after a workout on entry day and missed that start.

Then there was an overnight stakes at nine furlongs here last weekend. The race didn't fill.

"I hate to run her against older right now, but I don't know what else to do," Hobby said. "There are races for her in July, and I'm running out of time."

Thursday's start could serve as a tune-up for the Delaware Oaks next month. "That would give me the right timing," Hobby said.

But at this point, it's nice just to see Sue's Good News back in action. She had a major six-furlong work here June 7 that pleased Hobby, and she followed with an easy half-mile breeze Friday. All is right in her world - for the time being.

There's little doubt Sue's Good News has the most talent among nine horses entered in Thursday's race, which offers a $62,500 claiming option and is to be run at one mile.

On her best day last season, Balla Twine might have given Sue's Good News a tussle, but Balla Twine's ideal trip probably comes at two turns, not this one-turn mile. In her last start, Balla Twine made an early lead but succumbed to a talented 3-year-old, Awesome Humor, and may be in for more of the same treatment Thursday.