03/20/2008 12:00AM

Sole of the City sharp but possibly vulnerable


STICKNEY, Ill. - Inez Karlsson, a former amateur boxer in Sweden, is a seven-pound apprentice with only a few months' experience of actually race-riding Thoroughbreds. But she knows what a live one feels like.

Returning to the jockeys' room following the fourth race on March 7, opening day at Hawthorne, Karlsson assured an interviewer that she would win the next race on the card. Karlsson's mount, Sole of the City, not only won, she scored the single most impressive victory so far this Hawthorne season, capturing what on paper looked like a competitive optional-claiming sprint race by more than 10 lengths, running six furlongs in a little longer than 1:09.

All well and good: The question now is whether Sole of the City can do it again. She was one of six horses entered in Saturday's featured sixth race here, a 5 1/2-furlong high-end allowance also open to horses entered for a claiming price between $80,000 and $100,000.

Sole of the City will be running into two horses presumably prepping for an Illinois-bred sprint stakes next month at Hawthorne, and both of those two, Bluesbdancing and Secret Kin, are fully capable of winning.

Bluesbdancing has won 10 of 24 career starts, and is 5 for 9 at Hawthorne, but just where she stands in her racing career right now is uncertain. Bluesbdancing's form was solid enough through the summer, but she finished a distant last of nine in the Nov. 3 Powerless Handicap at Hawthorne, her most recent start.

The 6-year-old Bluesbdancing has rebounded from subpar efforts in the past, and trainer Terrel Gore said last week he retains confidence in his talented mare. And if Bluesbdancing's odds drift up because of her ugly running lines, she may be worth a play.

So might Secret Kin, who hasn't started since finishing second in the Purple Violet Stakes last July 7 at Arlington. A Team Block homebred trained by Chris Block, Secret Kin was emerging as a leading Illinois-bred filly before she went on the shelf, winning four straight races between December 2006 and last June. Secret Kin has won 3 of 5 Hawthorne starts, and put in a sharp half-mile work for her comeback on Monday.

Sole of the City led most of the way in her opening-day blowout, but since that day, the Hawthorne track surface has not been quite as kind to speed horses. Sole of the City shows no recent history of pairing up peak races, and may find the going tougher on Saturday.