06/13/2001 12:00AM

Long layoff a blessing in disguise


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - It's not like it was a good thing that Sonofabishop missed a year of racing. But because he did, Sonofabishop enters his 4-year-old summer a fresher, more lightly raced horse, and he may be better because of that.

Sonofabishop makes the second start of his comeback and faces eight rivals in Friday's featured race at Arlington, a third-level allowance at nine furlongs on turf.

Sonofabishop showed ability as a 3-year-old of 2000, winning two straight Fair Grounds turf races by open lengths for owners Louis Hersh and Ira Mersack. After a sixth-place finish in the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland, he beat older horses in an allowance race at Churchill Downs, and then hurt a tendon in his front leg and went to the sidelines to recuperate.

More than a year passed before trainer Tom Amoss had Sonofabishop ready to race again, and the colt had a right to be rusty when he came back May 27 at Churchill, closing from last place to finish a close fourth in a solid field. Amoss was pleased with the effort and feels Sonofabishop should move forward. By the turf marathoner Red Bishop, Sonofabishop is bred to improve with age, and at nine furlongs, Friday's race plays to his distance preference.

Jockey Mark Guidry has a call on Sonofabishop, who Amoss said wound up at Arlington when a similar turf race at Churchill failed to fill. Amoss, who strictly shipped horses into this meet last summer, has a string of runners at Arlington this year.

Sonofabishop meets up again with Lonely Place, who finished ahead of him when second in last year's Forerunner. Lonely Place, who is trained by Dick Lundy, won a turf allowance here at this class level in September, but ran poorly in his most recent race. However, his two races this season came against better horses than he meets Friday, and though Lundy has started the year slowly he figures to pick up the pace at Arlington. The Lundy-trained filly Badouizm, also making her third start of the year, delivered a powerful turf performance last Sunday at Hawthorne.

Others in the field can win, including the Gene Cilio-trained Holy Conflict, who blossomed on the Fair Grounds turf course this winter and won his last start at Hawthorne. Trainer Harvey Vanier entered two horses, Mister Volare and Chief's Hogan, with the former preferred. Mister Volare ran well on Arlington's turf course last year and may now be approaching peak form for the first time this season.