06/28/2003 12:00AM

Spring Meadow holds class edge


Spring Meadow, a graded stakes winner in Southern California last winter, returns to the East Coast for the first time in more than nine months in Monday's $55,000 Local Thriller Stakes at Delaware Park.

A 4-year-old filly trained by Bob Hess Jr., Spring Meadow has been facing some of the best older female sprinters in California and Kentucky, including Sightseek and Got Koko. She was good enough to win the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

Now based at Belmont Park, where she finished second in last summer's Grade 1 Prioress, Spring Meadow has been idle since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

The top threat to Spring Meadow in the six-furlong Local Thriller looks like Drexel Monorail, a 4-year-old filly who returns east after two starts in Texas. Most recently, Drexel Monorail earned a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure when she finished a close second in the six-furlong Valid Expectations at Lone Star Park. She has shown a fondness for Delaware, where she has been third or better in 5 of 7 starts.

The other horse for the course in the field of nine is Bernie's Gold. A winner in 6 of 13 starts at Delaware, Bernie's Gold returned from a 2 1/2-month freshening to decisively beat money-allowance sprinters earlier this month.

Based on her sharp form in Ohio and West Virginia, Alison's Winner is a threat to try and steal the race on the front end. She comes into the race off back-to-back sprint stakes wins at her home track, Thistledown, and at Mountaineer Park. Rodrigo Madrigal Jr., in his first season as a regular at Delaware, will ride the 6-year-old Alison's Winner for the first time for his father, trainer Rodrigo Madrigal Sr.

Bronze Abe and Skip the Print, the one-two finishers in the six-furlong Skipat Stakes at Pimlico a month ago, are both in sharp form. Skip the Print has been first or second in 5 of 8 starts at Delaware.