04/01/2003 12:00AM

This time, Sara may stalk

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A change in post position could mean a change in running style for Elusive Sara, who will be looking for her first two-turn win Thursday in the featured ninth race at Oaklawn Park.

The entry-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies will be run at one mile and is worth $32,000.

Elusive Sara tried two turns for the first time in her last start, and drawing the rail, her game plan was no secret. "We were kind of obligated to have to go," said Larry Jones, who trains Elusive Sara.

After setting a quick pace, Elusive Sara finished fourth in a competitive field of optional claimers. This time, things could be different.

Elusive Sara drew post 5, and could get a stalking trip behind any number of fillies as four of the seven in the field will be stretching out around two turns for the first time.

"From the looks of it, we're probably not going to be in front, and she won't have to have the lead because she showed [in her debut] she ran very well off the pace," said Jones. "She was on the outside that day, so she was able to sit real chilly there."

Jones hopes for a similar scenario Thursday. "It looks like we're going to have some speed to follow here. It looks like [Punchin' Gal] will jump right on out there and probably set the pace, and we'll kind of lay just off of her."

Jones said that's how he reads the race at first glance. But if things don't set up for a stalking trip at the start, Elusive Sara can adapt. "If nobody wants to go, I'm sure she will," said Jones.

"Having the two-turn experience, I think she'll move forward off of it."

Elusive Sara, a long-legged filly, was an impressive maiden winner in her first local start, when she wired a field at six furlongs Feb. 16. She returned to run fourth in a six-furlong entry-level allowance after a bad break March 9.

Terry Thompson has the mount for Dreamchaser Thorobreds.

Punchin' Gal showed good speed in her last start, when she wired a field of $50,000 maiden claimers by more than five lengths, covering six furlongs in a strong 1:11.40. She figures to again be prominent for trainer Terry Brennan and jockey Abel Castellano.

Perfect Dear could be close to the pace. She is making her first two-turn start after splitting a field of entry-level allowance rivals March 9. For this trip, she will add blinkers. Carlos Marquez will ride for trainer Don Von Hemel.

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