12/18/2007 12:00AM

Kissit has the makings of a favorite

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - It gets to be December at Hawthorne, and trainers start looking down the shed row for a horse - any horse - to step up and win an entry-level allowance race. Hawthorne regulars know that by this time of the year, the class level has thinned to such a degree that an animal who might be a no-hope longshot in such a race over the summer might actually have a chance to win.

And that is why six of the eight horses entered in race 5 on Thursday at Hawthorne - an entry-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs - started for a claiming price in one of their last three appearances. This phenomenon ranges all the way down to Mazel Shana Maydel, who when last seen on Aug. 3 won a maiden race at Fairmount Park for a $5,000 claiming price.

While Mazel Shana Maydel would need a miracle, pretty much all of the other seven have at least a fighting chance. Kissit, one of the two fillies without a recent claiming start, might be favored, even though she has won just twice in 27 starts. Kissit finished third here in her last two starts, will be ridden by leading jockey Tim Thornton, and got in a solid half-mile workout Dec. 15. Those factors probably are enough to make Kissit the chalk. Whether they produce a victory is another matter.

Race 7 is another allowance, this of the Illinois-bred second-level route variety, and the likely betting favorite here, Absolutely Ali, also cannot be counted on in the win slot. Second last out in a similar race, Absolutely Ali has managed three wins this year, but a 16-race campaign figures at some point to begin taking its toll.

Wade nears return home

Jockey Lyndie Wade is nearing his release from a rehabilitation center as he continues to make a steady recovery from a racing accident on Nov. 30 at Hawthorne. Wade's agent, Jay Fedor, said Wade could be sent home as soon as Wednesday from the rehab clinic where he has resided since being released from Loyola Medical Center. Fedor, who has served as a guardian to the 16-year-old Wade since he began riding at Hawthorne this spring, said Wade would undergo a period of outpatient physical therapy after leaving the rehab center.

Wade sustained several injuries in a horrifying spill late last month, the most serious of which was a blow to the brain that left him unconscious for nearly four days.

Wade needed surgery to inflate a collapsed lung after regaining consciousness, but he avoided surgery to repair a broken jaw and in general has healed steadily.