03/16/2006 12:00AM

Focus is on 3-year-old trio


STICKNEY, Ill. - There were 159 workouts recorded last Saturday morning at Hawthorne Race Course, a total that didn't square with the low number of entries on recent programs. But more attractive fields are back for Saturday's National Jockey Club card, with 90 horses entered in nine races, a big jump over the field sizes last week.

In the fourth race, the NJC has its best top-to-bottom race of the season. It is at six furlongs for $100,000 claimers or horses without a win in 2006, a condition that leaves most everyone on the grounds eligible to run. All six horses entered are Illinois-breds, but they happen to be among the best Illinois-bred females in training.

The field from the rail out - and none can easily be eliminated - includes , meanwhile, has banked more than a quarter-million dollars.

But the race should come down to the talented trio of 3-year-olds. Pretty Jenny is the quickest of them and is well drawn on the outside for her first start of the season. She last raced on Sept. 16, easily winning a turf sprint at Arlington, a performance that led trainer Christine Janks to suggest last week that she'd like to turn Pretty Jenny "into another Nicole's Dream," referring to the crack local turf-sprint specialist.

Bluesbdancing finished fifth in the Powerless Handicap in her final start last season, but has won 5 of 8 starts, including three wins after layoffs for trainer Terrel Gore.

Trainer Richard Hazelton downplays the chances of Meadow Bride at a sprint distance, but if morning activity is any indication, Meadow Bride might have a fitness edge on the competition. Hazelton has gotten six recent works into Meadow Bride, including a sharp six-furlong breeze March 7, and she is fully over foot problems that plagued her last year. Meadow Bride's best races figure to come later in the year at longer distances, but if the pace is quick enough Saturday, she still might get there in time.