10/09/2007 12:00AM

Hess in good spot to end drought

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Thursday's eight-race program could provide trainer Bob Hess Jr. with a much-needed breakthrough at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Through Monday, Hess was winless with his first 12 starters, a span that included a second and four third-place finishers. Hess has two runners Thursday - Tiz Next in an optional claimer for statebred females on turf and Ready Maid in a $32,000 claiming race for 3-year-old fillies.

Both are capable of winning and do not face strong fields.

Tiz Next is seeking her first win on turf following a Del Mar meeting with mixed results. She was second by 3 1/4 lengths in an optional claimer on Aug. 9 but was eighth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths again, versus a similar field on Aug. 30.

"I loved her last time and she ran terribly," Hess said. "She was beaten three [lengths], but it was a disappointing race. She's put on weight and looks better, but I'm not sure if she needs easier company. The jury is out."

Tiz Next has six opponents in the one-mile race, including Sunday Dress, who was second in a $32,000 claimer going 6 1/2 furlongs at this meeting on Sept. 28. She is making her second start on grass, having finished second in a starter allowance on soft turf at Bay Meadows in January 2006.

The race features the Southern California debuts of Whims and Fancies, who was fourth in the Palo Alto Handicap at Bay Meadows on Sept. 3; and Secret Flame, runner-up in an optional claimer at Emerald Downs on Sept. 28.

Ready Maid has drawn the outside post in a field of five for the second race, which is run at 1 1/16 miles. Ready Maid was claimed by owner James Eaton for $25,000 at Del Mar on Aug. 12, the day she won a one-mile race. In her first start for Eaton and Hess, Ready Maid finished sixth in a $50,000 claimer at Del Mar on Sept. 3.

"I think Ready Maid will run better," Hess said. "Prior to her last race, she was pretty sore in the back and wasn't doing that well. I ran her higher than I wanted to because Del Mar was ending and it was my only option. She's better than she was at Del Mar.

"I think of the two, Ready Maid will probably be more competitive," Hess said.

Ready Maid must beat Bullysima, who was claimed for $20,000 on Aug. 27 and is making a jump in class.