08/07/2002 11:00PM

Shiny Sheet right alternative

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The $100,000 Obeah Stakes, run June 22 at Delaware Park, could be considered a negative key race by handicappers.

Aside from the decisive winner, Your Out, who came within a few yards of upsetting Summer Colony in the $600,000 Delaware Handicap, nearly every one of the fillies and mares who exited the 1 1/8-mile Obeah returned to run poorly. That group includes second- and third-place finishers Quiet Lake and Shag, who each ran seventh next time out. Four other horses have since raced, and only one ran better than third.

So what does that say for the chances of Unrestrained, fourth in the Obeah and one of the favorites in Saturday's $75,000 Open Fire Stakes at Delaware?

Like the Obeah, the Open Fire is at nine furlongs on the main track. Unrestrained was scheduled to run in the July 21 Delaware Handicap but was scratched and will be making her first start in seven weeks.

An additional negative factor is Unrestrained's long drought. She's 0 for 6 this year and has lost seven in a row dating to last October.

The logical alternative to Unrestrained is Shiny Sheet, who has risen from the maiden ranks in March to win twice in minor stakes, including the Justakiss, where she romped by four lengths and earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

Lily's Affair and Regal Countess, who chased Shiny Sheet in the July 22 Justakiss, are back to take another crack at her. Lily's Affair, whose only win in seven starts this year came in the June 1 Nastique, is eligible to improve after trying to launch a rally into the fastest split of the 1 1/16-mile Justakiss.

Regal Countess dueled with Shiny Sheet through six furlongs, then backed up even though the first half-mile was run in a modest 48.25 seconds, a full second slower than female claimers ran in a route race earlier on the same card.

* Coco's Madness wasn't in the record books for long. The one-mile turf course record he set on May 26 was eclipsed last Saturday by Hanover Hollywood. Ridden by Jeremy Rose for trainer Tim Ritchey, the 5-year-old Hanover Hollywood was clocked in 1:34.74, shaving .14 off the record held briefly by Coco's Madness.

* Delaware's turf course will be closed for its annual mid-summer reconditioning break from Sunday to Aug. 24, the date of the $200,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap.

* Jockey Joe Rocco Sr. has resumed riding full time at Delaware. Rocco, 42, finished among the track's top 10 riders for five straight seasons, 1996-2000, including runner-up to Mike McCarthy in 1997. His son Joe Rocco Jr. has been a Delaware regular all season.