08/08/2006 11:00PM

Thoughtuknew returns

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - There's seldom a good reason for a horse to be sidelined 16 months, and there's always a big question to be answered when that horse comes back.

Thoughtuknew makes his return off a 16-month layoff on Friday when he meets five rivals in a five-furlong turf allowance with a $62,500 optional claiming tag at the Bay Meadows Fair. Five of the six runners are coming off a victory.

The 4-year-old Thoughtuknew meets older for the first time and also makes his turf debut. Steve Sherman, who handles the Team Sherman operation in the north while his father, Art, runs a string at Del Mar, is not sure what to expect Friday.

"He's worked three good works for us," said Sherman. "He came to us in good shape, and he'd worked a couple five-eighths at Legacy Ranch before coming here."

Thoughtuknew, owned by Bob Bone, will make his first start for the Shermans.

"Nobody told me anything about what was wrong with him," Sherman said. "Bob wanted to try the turf. He's been off such a long time that the distance may be good for him.

"I don't know what to expect since he's been off so long. I don't expect him to beat these up, but I think we'll get a good race."

Thoughtuknew has never finished worse than second in his five-race career, and he showed improvement in each start.

Among his rivals is Pragmatico, who has won six of eight starts this year, including his last two. Pragmatico was just claimed for $32,000 by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has given him nearly two months off and returns him to the turf.

Rockin' Rizzi and Helm's Press, both of whom are making their turf debuts, have also won two straight.

Pure American also comes off a victory, having won a $32,000 turf sprint at Hollywood Park.

Flying Supercon pressed Stone Rain in the Ernest Finley at Santa Rosa before fading, and has the advantage of an outside post here.