05/26/2003 11:00PM

Maker claim has nice post


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - We have already seen what she can do with young turf horses trying to win their maiden races or run through allowance conditions. Now, how will trainer Becky Maker fare in the claiming game?

Maker won an overnight handicap on turf here Saturday with Dancing With Me, who paid $67.20 to win, and 24 hours later she was back in the Arlington winner's circle after another grass race when General Lee, who like Dancing With Me had drawn in from the also-eligible list, won his maiden race in his turf debut.

Thursday at Arlington, Maker switches to dirt. She saddles Stormy Society in the eighth race, a seven-furlong allowance for nonwinners of three other-than, nonwinners of four, or $62,500 claimers. The spot is a step up for Stormy Society, who Maker and owner Stan Stefanski claimed from a $25,000 claiming win April 12 at Keeneland. But in less than a year of training on her own, Maker has shown a deft touch, and Stormy Society has been on a positive work pattern since her claim. She may be ready to step forward and beat six rivals that comprise a field somewhat soft for the class level.

Trainer Christopher Paasch went to Kentucky for the first time this spring, and Stormy Society was one of the horses he brought there with him. She had shown promise in Southern California for a time, but in the second half of 2002 and the start of this year, Stormy Society faded through the claiming ranks.

Maker figured she could restore some of the vanished promise - and she may be on to something. Stormy Society has posted four works since her claim, the most recent of them a quick five-furlong move here May 25. She is one of the few speed factors in the race, and since Arlington favored outside paths all last week, post 6 should work for Stormy Society and jockey Frank Lovato.

Just to her inside is the horse to beat, True Rose, who was narrowly defeated here May 10 in a race at this class level. On the other hand, many have beaten True Rose, who has won three races while finishing second seven times in 21 starts.

Sassy Bear may regress after a hard-fought win; Kerry Blue has raced only twice in 18 months; Meadow Dance could be prepping for a route race; and Playitagain Leo may not be good enough. That leaves Harlan Ash, who shows poor recent form but returns to the barn of trainer Doug Matthews, who guided her steady development the last two seasons.