10/15/2007 11:00PM

Polysheba tough off her last

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Mike Stidham has trained his share of grass stakes horses over the last several years. Polysheba isn't one of them, but she can win the featured first race for Stidham's Hawthorne string here on Thursday.

Polysheba, bred and owned by the Wertheimer brothers of France, was imported to the U.S. late last year, and has proven to be only a mediocre performer. She was eighth in her U.S. debut last winter at Fair Grounds, but that was a sprint race, and while no marathoner, Polysheba wants to run farther.

Stretched out to more appropriate distances, she slogged along in entry-level allowance races until finally finding one with her name on it Sept.o2 at Arlington. With a quick pace in front of her, Polysheba was up by a half-length.

What makes her look good in the Thursday opener, a second-level grass allowance carded for one mile, is the fact that Polysheba drew the rail - and should end up on the best part of the Hawthorne grass course - plus the nondescript nature of her opposition.

In fact, only six others were entered, and none look anywhere near as strong as Lisa M, the buzz saw Polysheba ran into here Sept. 26. Lisa M looked like a potential turf stakes horse winning off by four lengths that day, while Polysheba and jockey Chris Emigh ran into some traffic on the turn, which probably didn't cost them anything more than a closer second-place finish.

Polysheba would appreciate a decent pace at which to aim, and she should get one. Mary Kat, in from Kentucky for the high-percentage barn of Kelly Ackerman, has been on the early pace in her last two starts, and Mongoose Gold is a habitual front-runner. Rivanna River stretches out from sprints, and may be mildly sent for position from her outside gate, too.

Also likely to be near the front is the filly with the best chance at a mild upset, Boudoir. Boudoir won her maiden at first asking in an Illinois-bred one-mile Polytrack race back on Mayo13, but spent the next couple of months struggling, eventually winding up starting for a $10,000 tag on Aug. 29. That was also the first time that Boudoir raced with blinkers, and she snapped out of the doldrums to score a front-running 4 1/4-length win. Boudoir was even more impressive here on Sept. 23, winning a two-turn dirt race against Illinois-bred allowance foes by more than nine lengths, but she does not have a lot of turf in her pedigree, and it remains to be seen if Boudoir can continue her surge on grass.