08/10/2005 11:00PM

Lemon Maid looks sharp for Duchess

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Lemon Maid, winning the Star Shoot, has won 3 of her 4 starts.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The brilliant Lemon Maid returns from a freshening in Saturday's Grade 3, $162,150 Duchess Stakes at Woodbine.

The Duchess has also lured Hatpin, who figures to provide some speed in the seven-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies.

Lemon Maid, trained by Malcolm Pierce for Live Oak Plantation, has lost only once in four starts, and that loss was a second-place finish to Gold Strike in the Grade 3 Selene Stakes over 1 1/16 miles. Lemon Maid won at six furlongs in her first two outings, including the Star Shoot Stakes, and has been absent since taking the 1 1/16-mile Hill 'n' Dale Stakes June 25.

"She's had some easy time because of the hot weather, and it was the plan all along to go to this race from the Hill 'n' Dale," Pierce said.

Pierce raved about Lemon Maid's five-furlong breeze in 59.20 seconds last Saturday, which was the fastest of 26 workers at the distance.

"She picked it up pretty good," Pierce said. "I had a pair of horses go an easy half-mile in 49. They got way in front of her, but she ran them down at the wire. It worked out well, because she had a target to run at. I couldn't have planned it any better. She's going into the race bright and happy. I just hope she runs back to her work."

Lemon Maid has yet to try seven furlongs, but Pierce said he thinks that distance could be right up her alley.

"She was pretty handy sprinting," he said. "Her first start in New Orleans was a very good race. She also ran very well in the Star Shoot. I think seven-eighths might be a real good distance for her. I'm not so sure that she's a two-turn horse."

Hatpin captured a six-furlong allowance in May after finishing third in the Star Shoot. She won her turf debut going 6 1/2 furlongs June 12 in the Alywow Stakes, and most recently finished second against older foes in a seven-furlong optional claimer on the grass.

Hugh Chatman, the main assistant to trainer Mark Frostad, said he thinks switching back to the main track won't be a problem for Hatpin. "I think she moves a little better on turf, but she handles the dirt pretty well, too," he said.

Chatman said Hatpin doesn't have to run directly on the lead. "She'll rate kindly enough if somebody else wants to go, and if she does make the lead, she can settle, too," he said. "She's not rank."