01/26/2010 12:00AM

Oaklawn field hard to separate


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Got darts?

They might be needed for the eighth race Thursday at Oaklawn. There is no clear-cut favorite in the first-level optional claimer for fillies and mares that carries an optional claiming price of $17,500. And, to complicate things even more, there is a chance it could rain.

The race, at 1 1/16 miles, is a mix of promising fillies and experienced mares. Miss Atlantic should get good support as a five-time winner who was second last out to Splash of Roses, who last week won her fifth consecutive race.

On the list of up-and-comers are 4-year-old fillies Sensational Gold, a six-length maiden winner at Hawthorne in October; Whenthetimeisright, a half-sister to Group 1 winner Kaieteur; and Far East, a maiden winner this summer at Arlington.

Sensational Gold, who is by Medaglia d'Oro, was fifth in a first-level allowance at Hawthorne in her last out Nov. 19. She will be making her first start Thursday for trainer Chris Richard and shows some forward works at Oaklawn.

"I like the filly," he said. "She's been freshened up. She's had a couple of breezes over the track.

"For not having her and not racing her, I think she seems to have taken a liking to the surface."

Richard noted Sensational Gold caught a wet track in the allowance, but prior to that won her maiden on a fast track. She earned a career-best 84 Beyer for her maiden win. Sensational Gold will break from the rail under Terry Thompson.

"She likes to be up close," Richard said. "I don't think she necessarily has to be on the lead. She definitely likes to be up close and in the mix early."

Miss Atlantic also has speed and drew post 6. Cliff Berry has the mount for trainer Randy Morse.

Whenthetimeisright will be making her first start since October, when she was fifth to Grade 2 winner Payton d'Oro in the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks. Prior to that, Whenthetimeisright was third in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks. Tanner Riggs will ride for trainer Doug Anderson.

Far East moves back to the main track, site of her maiden win, after finishing eighth in a turf route in August. That first-level allowance has produced two next-out winners, with Ansong, who was fifth, returning to take a $50,000 optional claimer at Arlington, and Doctor Carina, 10th, winning a $35,000 conditioned claimer at Arlington.