02/14/2005 12:00AM

Island Sand sans blinkers in Pippin

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Island Sand will race without blinkers for the first time on Sunday when she makes her 4-year-old debut in the $50,000 Pippin Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park. The race is the first of two local preps for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap.

Island Sand tuned up for the Pippin on Monday, working five furlongs in 1:02.20 under regular rider Terry Thompson. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.60.

"She did it so easy," said Cindy Jones, assistant to her husband, trainer Larry Jones. "It was a wonderful work.

"She pulled the hotwalker for 45 minutes [afterward]."

Island Sand was racing in blinkers when she came to the Jones barn last year at Oaklawn, and since she was running well, the blinkers were left on. But she does not work in them, and her connections feel she might not need them.

"Terry said whatever you want, she does," said Cindy Jones.

The Pippin will be Island Sand's first race since Nov. 7, when she finished fifth after a wide trip in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff. Last year, she won the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park and ran second in both the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Grade 2 Fantasy.

Island Sand races for Jim Osborne of Little Rock, Ark.

Larry Jones on Monday was settling Josh's Madelyn in at Laurel Park, where she will run Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Barbara Fritchie. The race is over seven furlongs, the same distance of Josh's Madelyn's win in the Grade 2 Raven Run.

"Seven furlongs is her specialty," said Cindy Jones.

The Pippin is one of three stakes over the holiday weekend at Oaklawn. Greater Good, winner of the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, will make his first start as a 3-year-old in the $100,000 Southwest on Saturday, while a stablemate, stakes winner Kota, will start in the $50,000 Martha Washington on Monday. Both horses are trained by Bob Holthus.

Oaklawn raced Friday through Sunday for the first four weeks of the meet, but will have a Wednesday through Sunday schedule for the rest of the meet, except this week when Monday is added because it is President's Day.

Bedanken being sent to Pulpit

Bedanken is scheduled to be bred to Pulpit within the next 10 days, said Clifford Barry, farm manager of Pin Oak Stud in Versailles, Ky, which owns Bedanken. The mare was retired in November. Bedanken is a Grade 3 winner on both dirt and turf, and won 11 of 19 starts and $539,626. She is a 6-year-old daughter of Geri.

"She was a good racehorse," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trained her. "She won about everywhere we took her. She won graded stakes at Keeneland, Arlington, and New Orleans."

Von Hemel said one of his favorite wins was Bedanken's determined score in the Grade 3 Valley View at Keeneland in 2002.

Bedanken will reside at Pin Oak with a broodmare band that includes See How She Runs, a Grade 1 winner also trained by Von Hemel. See How She Runs is scheduled to be bred to El Prado, said Barry.

Bedanken has a promising half-brother, Free Thinking, 4, who won a two-other-than allowance at Oaklawn on Feb. 4. He is a son of Unbridled.

"He's a big, good-looking horse," said Von Hemel, who looks for the colt to develop into a stakes performer.

Free Bonus on pace Wednesday

There is one pace factor that can be relied on Wednesday in the featured ninth race: Free Bonus will be much closer to the lead in the entry-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies than she was last out in the $50,000 Dixie Belle. She raced about 10 lengths off the pace in the stakes, but it was not by design, said her trainer, David Norris.

Free Bonus was sitting back when the starting gate opened for the race. "She spotted them 10 lengths out of the gates," said Norris.

Free Bonus was fourth in the Dixie Belle, and before that had won the first four starts of her career, all on the pace. Among her wins were three stakes for Indiana-breds last year, a record that earned her the state championship among 2-year-old fillies bred in Indiana.

For the six-furlong feature on Wednesday, Norris said he is pleased Free Bonus drew the outside post. Free Bonus broke from the rail for the first time in her career in the Dixie Belle.

A top threat to Free Bonus is Twixy, a sharp maiden winner in her last start.

* Jockey Calvin Borel was one win from career victory 4,000 going into the races Wednesday.

* There is a pick-six carryover of $17,239 for Wednesday.