10/01/2007 11:00PM

Hot turf combo can strike again

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - On Saturday it was Jennie R., on Sunday it was Seeyalatertater. The Michele Boyce-T.D. Houghton grass connection was strong over the weekend, and the roll may continue into Thursday's featured race at Hawthorne.

Boyce sends out Lil Cora Tee in the ninth race, a $40,000 optional claimer on turf, and she has given Houghton his second-ever call on this 3-year-old filly. First time the two partnered up, Lil Cora Tee won a maiden race on Hawthorne's dirt track by more than 10 lengths.

Lil Cora Tee is okay on dirt, and all right on Polytrack, too. She's by the sire Lil E. Tee, who won the Kentucky Derby, but whose offspring for some reason seem to prefer grass racing. And lo, in Lil Cora Tee's only turf start, she won an Arlington allowance race by two lengths going away, and looked good in so doing.

Then it was into a stakes race on Polytrack, and Lil Cora Tee was a decent third, but after being rained off grass the next two times she started, Boyce pulled the plug on Lil Cora Tee's summer campaign. Now, she looks geared up for this meet, with three Hawthorne workouts, all of which make Lil Cora Tee look live.

Houghton put Jennie R. on the lead in last Saturday's Indian Maid Stakes, but Lil Cora Tee figures to be ridden more like Seeyalatertater on Sunday - held up behind the pace and asked to make one run.

Even if Lil Cora Tee fires, she might be hard-pressed to beat the filly Ciao. The question at this juncture is which Ciao will show up. The good Ciao won three of her first five starts, including an overnight stakes last fall at Churchill. Bad Ciao was ninth two races ago in the Virginia Oaks, and eighth last time out in the Pucker Up at Arlington, a race in which she never really got involved after being squeezed at the start.

Beware Baby would be tough if she runs as well on grass as she has been on Polytrack, but that's a doubtful proposition. Beware Baby won each of her last two starts on Arlington's main track by more than three lengths, but she was beaten a nose by a lesser foe three races ago in her most recent grass start.

The filly Now also has enough talent to factor, but is stuck with a far outside post.