03/11/2002 12:00AM

Mr Ross, Crafty Shaw to meet

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Mr Ross, one of the top handicap horses in the region with earnings of $1 million, and Crafty Shaw, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 113 last month winning his fourth consecutive race in the Grade 3 Essex at Oaklawn Park, will meet for the first time Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Razorback Handicap. Both horses are based in Hot Springs.

The 1 1/16-mile Razorback is a prep for the Grade 1, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap, and for the first time the race will share a program with the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup for fillies and mares, the local stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap. Both the Oaklawn Handicap and Apple Blossom are on April 6.

The Oaklawn BC will be the 4-year-old debut of champion Caressing, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2000 for her trainer, David Vance. Also probable for the 1 1/16-mile race is Search Party, fourth last out in the Grade 3 Sabin for her trainer, Shug McGaughey; Ask Me No Secrets, third-place finisher in the Grade 2 La Canada for trainer David Hofmans; Descapate, seven-length winner of the $150,000 Chou Croute for trainer Steve Asmussen; and Red N' Gold, five-length winner of the $50,000 Pippin for trainer Bob Holthus.

Search Party will arrive Wednesday, while Ask Me No Secrets will arrive Thursday. Caressing has been training at Oaklawn, and was to have her final work Tuesday.

Mr Ross had his final work for the Razorback on Sunday. "He went a nice, solid five-eighths," said his trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, of a workout timed in 1:02.80. "He just needed a little something to tighten him up. He seemed to be on his toes before and after the work."

Mr Ross won the Essex and Razorback last year, before finishing second to Traditionally in the Oaklawn Handicap.

Others expected for the Razorback are Remington Rock, Maysville Slew and Jadada, while Kiss of Lion and Unrullah Bull were possible for the race as of Monday.

Bedanken, Powder eye Festival

Bedanken, who won the Grade 3, $75,000 Honeybee on Saturday, and Powder, who upset Spanish Glitter in the $50,000 Spring Fever the next day, could both make their next starts during the Racing Festival of the South.

Bedanken is being pointed for the Grade 2, $200,000 Fantasy on April 12. The Honeybee was her first start around two turns, and she handled the new assignment with ease.

Bedanken is one of two good 3-year-old fillies that Von Hemel has for Pin Oak Stud. The other, undefeated See How She Runs, is a candidate for the $150,000 Bourbonette Breeders' Cup over a mile at Turfway Park on March 23.

Powder could start next in either the $100,000 Carousel Breeders' Cup over six furlongs April 7, or the $75,000 Stravinsky Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Keeneland on April 20, said her trainer, Sonny Wigginton.

Thompson out for meet

Jockey Terry Thompson, who leads the standings with 31 wins, will be out for six weeks after surgery to put four pins in his right thumb last Saturday. He will miss the remainder of the meet, which closes April 13.

Thompson was injured when he fell from his mount, Fleet Boss, in the fifth race Saturday after rival Brown Eyed Major came over at the break and the two clipped heels.

Thompson had been in a good position to win his first Oaklawn title. James Lopez is second in the standings with 28 wins, two more than Luis Quinonez.

* Cindy Noll, who missed last week with a cracked rib, was named to ride Wednesday.