10/31/2007 11:00PM

Maidens chase a $45K stakes purse

EmailEAST BOSTON, Mass. - Only four Massachusetts-bred 2-year-old fillies are ready for a challenge in the $45,000 Amelia Peabody Stakes on Saturday at Suffolk Downs despite a week's delay for the six-furlong race.

Originally planned as the stakes feature on last Saturday's card alongside the Breeders' Cup simulcast, the Peabody is instead the richest maiden race in the history of Suffolk Downs as the four statebreds all are looking for their first win.

Three of the fillies have raced already, but none has finished better than fifth. First-time starter Angel's Treasure shows just three workouts and obscure breeding.

When a statebred stakes comes up this light, the best bet is to rate the human connections, and the "first family of Massachusetts breeding," the Lockharts, are involved with the likely favorite.

Lloyd Lockhart sends out both Conquer the Wind and Innocent Kip in an uncoupled entry. Lockhart engineered the upset by Reprized Strike in the open Waquoit Stakes on the Massachusetts Handicap undercard, and his daughter Lori Lockhart trains the leading Massachusetts-bred stakes winner Ask Queenie.

Lloyd Lockhart is the owner and breeder of Innocent Kip, and like most of the family's homebreds, she has connections to past Mass.-bred stakes stars. She is a half-sister to Expensive Verdict and Southoftheborder, the former a statebred stakes winner in 2000 and 2001 and the latter six-time placed in stakes, often behind Ask Queenie. Neither ever faced a field this soft.

Innocent Kip is by the sire Kelly Kip, who used to stand at Highcliff Farm in New York, where the Lockharts have often brought their top Massachusetts broodmares. She finished seventh in her debut behind the impressive Good Will on Sept. 29. She improved to sixth in another tough maiden race Oct. 10 over a muddy track.

Conquer the Wind has the most experience in the field, but none of her experiences have been very good. Her best finish in five races was fifth place in her debut in July. She was sixth in her latest start, behind Good Will in September.

Considering makes her third start in the Peabody. She faded to eighth in that same September race behind Good Will. She also gets a second dose of Lasix and changes to hot jockey David Amiss.

Angel's Treasure represents a tenuous connection between the paragon of Kentucky breeding and the humble program in Massachusetts. Her sire, Storm of Angels, was a son of Storm Cat who never raced, but was flashy enough to fetch a $500,000 price at auction as a 2-year-old in 1996. He stood at breeder-trainer George Brown's Briar Hill Farm and represented one of the few ways to get a Storm Cat pedigree into a Massachusetts-bred bloodline. This filly is one of the last runners by Storm of Angels, who died last year.

Amiss jumps up in jockey standings

Amiss is the jockey who has made the most of the absence of Winston Thompson, the perennial leader who has been out since August with an ankle injury. Amiss has vaulted up the standings to second behind Tammi Piermarini, starting Saturday with 74 wins.

His 86 victories this year are a career high and represent a turnaround for the 42-year-old Amiss, who took off from 2001-04 to raise a family and control his weight.