09/16/2003 11:00PM

A more realistic spot for 'Sonata'


ELMONT, N.Y. - Bill Mott made a wise business decision last month when he chose to run Golden Sonata in the $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 22 rather than a $58,000 allowance race the day before.

Both races had five-horse fields, guaranteeing Golden Sonata would earn a check in either spot. Though she finished last in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, Golden Sonata earned $12,000.

"I'd do that again,'' Mott said. "She's a Mr. Prospector filly and we were trying to get her black type. She came out of it all right and still has her allowance conditions.''

Golden Sonata will try to clear her third-level allowance condition on Friday when she takes on five rivals in a $52,000 race at 1 1/16 miles. The remnants of Hurricane Isabel should provide a wet track, a surface on which on Golden Sonata won her second-level allowance condition at Gulfstream in February.

Mott would like to see Golden Sonata return to her late-running ways Friday. In the Personal Ensign, she was three wide and pressing the pace entering the first turn. She remained in contention until the half-mile pole when she began to tire.

"She was awfully rank the other day," Mott said. "She jumped out and was close to the pace. Consequently, she tired at the end.''

Pocus Hocus looks like the main speed in this six-horse field and is 2 for 2 over a wet surface. Both those wins came over Aqueduct's inner track and by open lengths. Pocus Hocus is 0 for 7 this year and is coming off a second-place finish behind She's Got the Beat in the same allowance race from which Golden Sonata was scratched.

"Last time she ran she didn't break any good and that really cost her,'' trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "It put Jose [Santos] in a bad spot. You don't want a horse to take off when that happens; by the same token you don't want to take them too far out of their game.''

Pocus Hocus has trained well since returning from Saratoga, including a bullet five-furlong work at Belmont on Sept. 7. But her poor record in one-turn races concerns Jerkens.

Lady Liberty makes her first start since finishing last in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap in the slop on June 21. Before that, she won a second-level allowance race originally scheduled for the turf but run on the dirt. She finished second to Golden Sonata in February at Gulfstream.