02/21/2003 12:00AM

An 'itchy' Noll gets back in action

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Cindy Noll, the all-time winningest female rider at Oaklawn Park who missed the first three weeks of the meet to spend more time with her children, returned to riding here Friday.

She finished eighth in the sixth race with 10-1 shot Upsy Daisy for trainer Jack Waldie. The mount was Noll's first since the Hoosier Park meet ended in November.

"I thought the kids were doing very, very well, and I was getting itchy to get back to work," said Noll. "I do need to get ready for Iowa."

Noll, who will ride at Prairie Meadows after Oaklawn, is in her sixth season in Hot Springs. She has won close to 150 races at the track since 1997, with her best local finish in the standings coming in 1999 when she won 47 races to rank third behind champ Tim Doocy and runner-up Calvin Borel.

Noll also cracked the top 10 at Oaklawn in 1998 and 1999 and was the nation's leading female in 1994 with 189 wins. She has been named to ride four horses at Oaklawn on Sunday.

Sand Ridge returns in feature

There is no stakes Sunday at Oaklawn, but the featured ninth race has the feel of one with the venerable Sand Ridge, now 8, set to make his comeback from a four-month layoff. Also in the race is Honor Me, who was runner-up to Beau's Town last out in the $50,000 King Cotton Stakes on Feb. 1.

The $60,000 optional claimer, to be run over six furlongs, should produce starters for the $50,000 Hot Springs Stakes on March 23.

At least that's the plan for Honor Me, according to trainer Stanley Roberts. The King Cotton was a strong race for Honor Me, who was making his first start since Oct. 12. Rodney Trader has the return call Sunday.

Ken Shino will be aboard Sand Ridge, who has worked steadily for his return. Last year, Sand Ridge won his comeback from an extended layoff at Oaklawn. He races for Thunderhead Farms and is trained by Don Von Hemel.

Another of note in the race is U.S. Jets, who rallied from 12 lengths off the pace last out to win a money allowance at Churchill Downs.