01/16/2007 1:00AM

Late bloomer back on hillside


ARCADIA, Calif. - As recently as August, Miss Silver Image's career appeared to be a bust. She made her debut last July, well into her 4-year-old season, and finished fourth in two maiden claimers at Del Mar.

But time has worked in favor of Miss Silver Image. Since winning a maiden claimer over about four furlongs at Fairplex Park on Sept. 20, Miss Silver Image has won 2 of 3 starts. She will try for her fourth career win in an optional claimer over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Thursday.

Getting this far has been a surprise for the partnership that owns the mare and trainer Mike Machowsky.

"We had problems with her high suspensories" earlier in her career, Machowsky said. "To have a 4-year-old maiden in the fall, you've got to be realistic. That's why we had her in the maiden claimers."

Miss Silver Image's two recent wins came at Hollywood Park, a starter allowance on the synthetic surface and an allowance race over six furlongs on turf on Dec. 3.

In the turf race, she stalked the pace to early stretch and won by three-quarters of a length under jockey Omar Figueroa, who has the mount on Thursday.

"She can sit," Machowsky said. "Omar rode her very well that day."

Miss Silver Image has one start on the hillside, finishing a game second in a starter allowance here last September, her first start against winners.

For Thursday's race, Miss Silver Image has drawn the outside post.

Miss Silver Image has enough speed to take the lead, but is likely to track Callmeluckylucy, who has shown ample speed in her last two starts. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Callmeluckylucy is making her first start on turf.

Those two could help the chances of Make Mine Minnie, the winner of the Blue Norther Stakes on a wet-fast main track here in January 2006. Winless in five subsequent starts, Make Mine Minnie is making her first start on the hillside turf course.

"I think a flat mile is her gig," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "I thought we'd try this. Sometimes, the flat milers like the hill. The speed can run away and she can sit comfortably."

The optional claimer will mark the U.S. debut of Seasons, a French import who has not started since August 2005. "She may need a run," trainer Neil Drysdale said.

Bosset, another top contender, was third in the Cesario Stakes at Hollywood Park in her U.S. debut on Dec. 9.