09/17/2003 12:00AM

Pop Princess intriguing off big layoff

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Pop Princess, an almost-white daughter of Alphabet Soup, returns from an extended layoff in Friday's fifth race at Woodbine, a seven-furlong turf allowance for fillies and mares.

Pop Princess won her only start, closing down the center of a yielding turf course to win a one-mile maiden special weight race by a head last October. She was injured while training at Gulfstream Park during the winter, and has been working up a storm over the turf training course over the past month. Last Friday, she zipped five furlongs in 59 seconds, the fastest of 21 workers at the distance.

Pop Princess is out of the Easy Goer mare Relaxing Rhythm, who won eight of nine career starts, including the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap at Monmouth. Relaxing Rhythm is a half-sister to graded stakes winners Malagra and Holy Mountain.

Jim McAleney will ride Pop Princess for Stronach Stable and trainer Malcolm Pierce.

Also entered in Wednesday's fifth are New Diligence, Grazettes, Peek a Boo Sara, Kabeeb, Swift of Flight, Neblina, Colonial Surprise, Dancewithasolider, Princess Edwina, Sweet Maria, and Wawota. The main-track-only runners are Just for Jean, Miss Santa Anita, and Promenade Road.

Friday's feature, an $80,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, could belong to My Real Quiet Lady, who tracked a slow pace and defeated the classy Silver Nithi to win a second-level allowance Aug. 24. She hit the board in three of her four previous outings, including a second-place finish on the grass.

Completing the field for Wednesday's headliner are Night Edition, La Princess Jolie, Fleur de Sel, and Rich Mist.

Late-running Rich Mist is winless in 19 starts since the beginning of 2002, but has earned $116,710 in that time. She finished a half-length behind Fleur de Sel two starts ago, and had little chance trying to close off a slow pace when third in her latest.

Fleur de Sel figures to set the pace, with My Real Quiet Lady breathing on her neck. Fleur de Sel helped set moderate fractions before drawing clear to take a recent seven-furlong dash for $50,000 claimers, and also won a $62,500 route.

Night Edition ran second in a 1 1/8-mile race at this level July 19. She was a troubled fourth last time, behind La Princess Jolie, who ran in the Sept. 7 Flaming Page on turf.