08/02/2001 11:00PM

River Downs: 4-way rematch

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The top four finishers in last year's Ms. Southern Ohio Stakes - Doubly Fun, Shamrock Slew, Cabot Cove, and Lady Cherie - were separated by less than two lengths. They all return for this year's race, contested for a $45,000 purse at River Downs on Sunday, which means it should produce another competitive finish.

Cabot Cove, who fell three-quarters of a length short of Doubly Fun when third in 2000, appears in good position to turn the tables. Unlike the majority of her opponents, she is a turf specialist, and the Ms. Southern Ohio is run at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Seven of her 11 victories have come on grass, including her last race on July 14 at Mountaineer.

That day she closed from last to defeat money allowance rivals by over a length. Earlier this year she finished third in the Firecracker Handicap at Mountaineer.

Facing Ohio-breds for the first time since last summer, Cabot Cove appears poised for a strong performance. William Otero rides for trainer Timothy Hamm.

Doubly Fun, the defending champion, may also have a say in the outcome of the Ms. Southern Ohio. Claimed for $40,000 this spring at Churchill Downs, she returns to the grass after two failed efforts on the main track. She has been off the board just twice in seven grass races.

Lady Cherie and Shamrock Slew also figure prominently. Both are versatile and would not be hampered if inclement weather forces the Ms. Southern Ohio to the main track.