02/05/2003 12:00AM

Scrum heading comeback crowd


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The featured ninth race at Oaklawn Park on Friday will test the conditioning of its eight entrants. All of the horses in the entry-level allowance are returning from layoffs, ranging from six weeks to 10 months. The race will be run over six furlongs for a purse of $31,000.

Scrum has the speed to control the pace, but he has not raced since Aug. 4, when he finished third in an entry-level allowance at Ellis Park. He shows three five-furlong works in preparation for his comeback, and on Friday will be making his first start for trainer Bob Holthus.

Holthus's has strong stats with horses returning from a layoff of 180 days or more, and Scrum is a horse who has run well fresh before. The last time he returned from a layoff he was a winner, taking a maiden special weight race wire to wire at Ellis Park in July in his first start since November 2001.

Terry Thompson has the mount for owners Iron Horse Racing.

Emily Ring heads American Beauty

Emily Ring will shoot for her third straight stakes win Saturday in the $50,000 American Beauty. The six-furlong race for fillies and mares is also expected to draw Princess Jen, who is after her fourth straight win, and Southern Tour, who last year won the $100,000 Carousel Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn.

Trainer Blackie Huffman said James Lopez will have the return call on Emily Ring. Lopez has ridden the mare in her last two starts - victories in the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural at Turfway Park on Dec. 7, and the $75,000 New Year's Eve Handicap at Mountaineer Park on Dec. 30.

Overall, Emily Ring has won four of her last five races for Mike Anderson Thoroughbreds.

Princess Jen has won two stakes and a Fair Grounds allowance in her last three starts for Young Stables and trainer Ronnie Campisano. Her stakes wins were the $30,000 Lady's Secret at Remington Park and the $30,000 Majorette Handicap at Louisiana Downs.

Lopez will be looking for his second straight win in the American Beauty. He won the race last year with Spanish Glitter.

Miss Seffens retired

Miss Seffens, who won the $50,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn in 2000, has been retired and is scheduled to be bred to Fusaichi Pegasus sometime this week, said trainer Steve Wren.

Wren trained Miss Seffens throughout her career, during which she won 11 races in 26 starts and $502,600 for owners Hayes and Kaaren Biggs of Springdale, Ark. She was one of the most popular horses at Oaklawn, bursting onto the scene in 2000 by winning 3 of 5 starts at the track that season by a combined 29 lengths.

"She's adapting well to retired life," said Wren, who last saw Miss Seffens in November when he was leaving Kentucky to come to Oaklawn. "I love that mare. We had a lot of fun with her."

Mr Ross will miss meet

Mr Ross, who has won at least one race at Oaklawn every year since he won his maiden here in February 1998, will not make an appearance this season, although he is in Hot Springs. Off since September, the horse returned to training last week and is scheduled to have his first workout in March, said trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Von Hemel is looking for Mr Ross to make his comeback later this year at Lone Star Park.

Mr Ross, who finished second in the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap in 2001, has won the Grade 3 Razorback twice, and also won the Grade 3 Essex, all at Oaklawn. Overall, he has won 18 races and $1 million for owner-breeder Don McNeill.

* Jockey Carlos Gonzalez, who won the Oaklawn Handicap in 1998 with Precocity when he was a regular in Hot Springs, was in town Wednesday to visit his children, and also attended the races. Gonzalez is now based in south Florida.