12/22/2008 12:00AM

Thundering Jill tries again


Change apparently is not difficult for Thundering Jill to handle. In a little more than two years and through 25 races, the 4-year-old filly has switched barns 10 times, most recently by way of a Churchill Downs claim to Benjie Larue.

Change is an appropriate theme for the resumption of racing Friday afternoon at Turfway Park, where Thundering Jill appears to be a major contender in the featured 11th of 12 races. The week between Christmas and New Year's marks a major departure from the normal racing schedule at the Florence, Ky., track. Not only is first post set for 1:10 p.m. Eastern every day, even for weekdays, but the track will run uninterrupted through Jan. 4, including on two days (Dec. 29 and 30) that normally would be dark.

For Thundering Jill, the ol' switcheroo is nothing new - after all, following seven of her last nine races she has gone home with someone other than the person who brought her to the dance. This is her second go-round with Larue, having been haltered from a June 29 win at Churchill and then a Nov. 7 win at Churchill.

In one start since then, Thundering Jill finished second in a six-furlong $32,500 claimer over the Polytrack at Turfway on Dec. 5. She will be competing under identical conditions Friday, including a $16,000 purse, when she breaks from post 2 under Rodney Prescott in a field of eight fillies and mares.

Thundering Jill "is about the soundest horse I've seen in a long, long time, and plus she's a runner," Larue said. "You don't run across that kind very often anymore."

Larue is trying to rebound from a terrible life change that occurred on the morning of Nov. 20 at Riverside Downs, the western Kentucky training center where a barn fire killed 29 horses.

"I got three of my horses out but lost two," said Larue, 46.

He currently has six horses at a private training center owned by fellow trainer Elvie Cobb in Roberts, Ky.

Earlier Friday at Turfway, 13-year-old Gretchen's Star will drop in for a $5,000 tag when part of a full field in the seventh race at 1 1/16 miles over the Polytrack.

Fridays at Turfway normally include live entertainment, but with the scheduling shift, there is none. The next band on the schedule is Doghouse on Jan. 16.