02/03/2004 1:00AM

Kitty's Legend one of several coming off bench


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - There is one striking similarity among most of the starters in Thursday's featured ninth race at Oaklawn, a six-furlong conditioned allowance for fillies and mares: They are coming off layoffs.

Glacial Victoire, who in her last start was fourth in the 2002 running of the Grade 3 Arlington Lassie, has been away from the races the longest. Others in the 10-horse field returning from extended layoffs include Bonita Rose, who last raced in March; Onda Ray, whose last out was in May; and Cahill Holy and Mavoreen, both of whom have not raced since July.

Trained by Gary Thomas, Kitty's Legend has been away from the races for more than two months, with her last start having come Nov. 20. She finished second in a two-turn turf allowance at Churchill Downs.

"I always give my horses a little layoff when I leave Kentucky to come here," said Thomas, an Oaklawn regular whose biggest local score came in the 1986 Arkansas Derby with Rampage. "I give them a little break."

Kitty's Legend has proven to be a better horse on turf, with a smart nose win over entry-level allowance rivals two starts ago in a route race. But she has won at six furlongs on dirt, winning her maiden at Ellis Park last September.

Kitty's Legend was given a two-month layoff after that race, and when she returned she won the turf allowance. She has trained well for her comeback at Oaklawn, working four furlongs in 48.20 seconds Monday.

"She's got speed," said Thomas. "She can be laying close enough to win if things go her way."

Thomas said that given Kitty's Legend's taste for turf, she will be most effective if the track is tight on Thursday.

"She doesn't like a cuppy track," he said. "That's one of the reasons she likes the turf. If she can get a hold of [a surface], she'll run over it."

Tim Doocy has the mount for Millard Seldin Revocable Trust.

Wildcat Shoes to Southwest

Wildcat Shoes, who has won 3 of 5 career starts, including the $60,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds, will make his two-turn debut later this month in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes, said his trainer, Jinks Fires. The one-mile race for 3-year-olds will be run at Oaklawn on Feb. 28.

In his most recent start, Wildcat Shoes was edged on the wire by Pro Prado in the $50,000 Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn. That race came over six furlongs, and Fires had looked for some other sprint stakes around the country for the colt, but found none that was satisfactory and has decided to keep Wildcat Shoes home for the Southwest.

Bedanken will return to Fair Grounds

Bedanken, who in her last start returned from a one-year layoff to win the $60,000 Furl Sail at Fair Grounds on Dec. 26, is on schedule to return to New Orleans later this month for the Grade 3, $125,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap, said her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel.

The Bayou is a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares on Feb. 28. Following that race, Bedanken could return to dirt for a stakes at Oaklawn. She has won stakes here, and overall has won 8 of 11 career starts and more than $300,000 for Pin Oak Stable.

* Roxelana, an allowance winner last year at Oaklawn, is due to deliver a foal by Cherokee Run in March, said Blackie Huffman, who trained the mare for William Landes III. Roxelana, who was retired last year, is best known for her 11 3/4-length win in the 2000 running of the Grade 3 La Troienne.

* Trainer Carlos Paez won with his first two starters at Oaklawn last Friday. Springsteen won his first start since October 2002 and paid $96.60, while later on the card Juicy Fruits won by 14 lengths and paid $12.20.

* Darrell Haire, who rode Temperence Hill to victory in the 1980 Arkansas Derby, visited Oaklawn for the first time in 20 years last Saturday. He was in town on business, working as a representative of the National Jockeys' Guild. Haire said membership in the Guild has grown from 620 to 1,140.