01/08/2002 1:00AM

Sound of the West gets blinkers for 2002 debut

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Although she has rarely missed earning a check for her connections, Sound of the West has been somewhat of a disappointment for owner John Peace and trainer Rusty Arnold.

After watching her lose at 2-5 last time out, Arnold will equip Sound of the West with blinkers for the first time Thursday, when she makes her 5-year-old debut in a second-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park. The $36,000 allowance race will be run at 1 1/16 miles over the main track.

Sound of the West looked well spotted to clear her second allowance condition on Dec. 17 at Calder Race Course. But after she stalked a slow pace, Sound of the West's late run left her second best.

"We were a little disappointed with that race," said Jack Bohannan, assistant to Arnold. "It sure looked like a field she could have beaten. She ran a good second, we just thought the blinkers might shake her up a little bit."

Since training her in blinkers, Bohannan has noticed a difference, saying Sound of the West has "shown a little more life." On Tuesday, she blew out three furlongs in 36.40 seconds at Gulfstream.

With Jorge Chavez, who was aboard for the Calder allow-ance, serving a seven-day suspension this week, Mark Guidry has picked up the mount on Sound of the West, who will break from post 2.

Although she has not run in three months, Emory Board could be the one to beat in this seven-horse field. A daughter of Grindstone, Emory Board is coming off a second-place finish in an allowance race at Delaware Park where she encountered significant traffic trouble during the race.

"She should have been unsaddled [a winner]," trainer Mike Zwiesler said from his winter base of Ocala.

Before that Delaware race, Emory Board finished second to Transcendental at Saratoga on a day where no one would have beaten the winner. Emory Board is a stakes winner, having won the Go for Wand Stakes at Delaware in May. The only bad race of her career came in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks, where Zwiesler equipped his filly with blinkers.

"She was just uncontrollable," Zwiesler said.

Legitimada has a win and a second in two races at Gulfstream and enters Thursday's race off of two solid efforts in claiming company at Aqueduct. Though Legitimada has raced on the lead in her last two starts, trainer David Donk believes she is more effective from off the pace. John Velazquez will ride from the rail.

Annatoga, Lady of Dixie, Me Gotta Go, and Zuley complete the field.

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