02/04/2002 12:00AM

Sand Ridge making return in allowance

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Don Von Hemel is taking a conservative approach with Sand Ridge to begin this meet. Sand Ridge, a successful Midwest sprinter, returns from a seven-month layoff Wednesday in a $35,000 money allowance.

The six-furlong race has drawn nine others, including Jadada, a Grade 3 winner around two turns who has not raced since October, and probable pacesetters Joyful Tune and Abbi's Choice.

Sand Ridge was entered against a full field in the $50,000 King Cotton Stakes on Saturday, but was scratched in favor of this softer spot. Last year, Sand Ridge finished third in the King Cotton, but the race fell later on the calendar, and Sand Ridge had a chance to prep for it in a February allowance, which he won by 4 3/4 lengths.

Don Von Hemel said the horse's connections "felt like we'd be doing the best thing for our horse" if they passed on the King Cotton "and got him in a little easier spot for his first race back."

Sand Ridge, a 7-year-old winner of $388,219, has not raced since he was second to high-class sprinter Bonapaw in the $150,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap on July 4. "He ran hard here and in Iowa last year, so we decided to give him some time off," said Von Hemel.

Before that race, Sand Ridge won the $50,000 Prairie Express and the $50,000 Bob Feller at Prairie Meadows. "I think probably his best race last year was in the Bob Feller," said Von Hemel. "He looked like he was beat. He couldn't get out, and he was behind a wall of horses, and he finally came out around and won."

Among those Sand Ridge defeated was Kings Command, who won Saturday's King Cotton.

Sand Ridge has worked well for his comeback, his most impressive drill a five-furlong move in 59.60 seconds Jan. 17. Terry Thompson has the mount on Sand Ridge, who is owned by Thunderhead Farms.

Tim Doocy will ride Jadada, who also has been working well for his return. Even though his best races have come around two turns, the speed Jadada has shown in the morning suggests he could make an impact sprinting Wednesday. Trained by Mitch Shirota, his biggest victory came in the Grade 3 Fayette.

Sprinter recalls past star

Beau's Town, the chestnut Arkansas-bred who rolled to a 3 3/4-length win in a conditioned allowance sprint last Friday, conjured memories of the kingpin of Arkansas-bred sprinters, E J Harley.

E J Harley, who is a chestnut, too, experienced some of his greatest success here. Trained by David Vance, he won his maiden at Oaklawn in his debut in 1995, and also won three runnings of the Hot Springs Stakes from 1998 to 2000 to help push his earnings to $428,265.

"He's turned out in Indiana right now," said Vance. "We may try him when I get back in the spring. It depends on how he looks and how he acts. He may be retired. It's just hard to say."

Beau's Town, a winner of three of four starts, was purchased by Dave Hulkewicz and turned over to trainer Cole Norman following a second-place finish in his debut Sept. 14.

In his first start for his new connections, Beau's Town won his maiden by two lengths. He then defeated allowance foes at Fair Grounds by 4 1/2 lengths Dec. 15. In his most recent start, he overcame a wide trip.

"Hopefully he keeps going," said Hulkewicz. "We're going to take it a step at a time; keep going up the ladder and see where he takes us."

Beau's Town, with a speed-laden pedigree, is by Beau Genius and out of a Kerosene mare who is a half-sister to stakes winners Playcaller and Cagna.

Not-so-humble bloodlines

Humble Charlie, who makes his career debut against statebred maidens in the third race Wednesday, brings an impressive pedigree to the starting gate. He is a full brother to Humble Clerk, a multiple Grade 3 winner who earned $503,545, and a half-brother to stakes winners Humble Thirteen and Humble Retha.

James Danaher bred, owns, and trains Humble Charlie, a 4-year-old son of Humble Eleven. The colt is to be ridden by David Nuesch.