02/12/2003 12:00AM

Hear This strong in comeback

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Hear This, a standout maiden winner last year at Oaklawn Park, will try to become trainer Cole Norman's latest layoff winner at the meet when she makes her first start since May in an entry-level allowance for fillies and mares Friday.

The six-furlong race has drawn nine others, and is worth $31,000.

Norman has had a strong run with horses returning from layoffs this season at Oaklawn, where he leads the trainer standings with 11 wins from 42 starters heading into the races Wednesday.

His most impressive comebacker so far has been Beau's Town, who returned from a six-month layoff to win the $50,000 King Cotton on Feb. 1.

But there have been others of note. Norman won with three of his four starters Feb. 5, and all were returning from layoffs. Don'timpressmemuch ($2.80) romped by more than nine lengths in a statebred claimer in her first start since Oct. 25. Tax Affair ($9.80) pulled a mild upset in a $60,000 optional claimer in her first out since Oct. 18. And then That Tat ($6) won the feature, a $60,000 optional claimer, in his first start since Sept. 28.

A day later, Norman won with two layoff horses: Happy Sport, who last raced Oct. 12, and My Meow, who last raced Nov. 7.

All of Norman's layoff winners on Feb. 5 and 6 were running around one turn, most of them six furlongs, like Hear This does on Friday. She, however, will have to overcome a longer break than Cole's others, as she has not raced in eight months. Still, Norman's stats with horses returning from layoffs of 180 days or more are strong, as he shows a 20 percent win clip in that category.

Hear This also likes the track. She was a wire-to-wire debut winner at Oaklawn last April when she won a six-furlong race - after running the opening quarter in 21.60 seconds -by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:10.20. Anthony Lovato has the mount.

Hear This's chief rivals Friday are also returning from layoffs. They include Sermon, a Pulpit filly who is making her first start since June 30 for trainer William Fires; and Meadow Dance, who has worked well for his first start since Oct. 4 for trainer Don Von Hemel.

Others of note in the race include Lullaby League, who was a 12 3/4-length maiden winner last out at Remington Park, and Twinwinwin, who finished a solid second at this level last out for high percentage trainer Robert Klesaris.

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