02/11/2003 1:00AM

Uncoupled Von Hemel pair face off

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Heart of the Cat and Southern Alert, who chased Tulupai in separate stakes races in their last starts, meet Thursday in an entry-level allowance at Oaklawn Park.

The six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies drew a field of seven, and has a purse of $31,000.

Heart of the Cat finished third to Tulupai, a three-time stakes winner, when the two met in the $30,000 Cimarron at Remington Park on Nov. 24. Heart of the Cat stalked the pace in sixth early, then rallied to lose by 2 1/4 lengths to Tulupai.

Since that race, Heart of the Cat has worked well for her first start at 3. Don Pettinger has the mount for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Von Hemel will also start Southern Alert, who is not coupled with Heart of the Cat. She will make her first start for him. She raced in the Midwest last year for trainer Larry Donlin.

Southern Alert faced Tulupai in September in the $52,000 Debutante at Prairie Meadows, finishing eighth after setting the pace. Earlier, Southern Alert won her maiden by 16 lengths under R.D. Williams, who has the mount Thursday.

Court returns from suspension

Jon Court, who was suspended seven calendar days last week for a riding infraction, will return to action Thursday.

Court was leading the standings at the time of his suspension. Heading into Wednesday's card, he ranked second, one win behind co-leaders Terry Thompson and Jamie Theriot.

That Tat to Hot Springs

That Tat, a wire-to-wire winner over Chindi Feb. 5 in a $60,000 optional claimer, is being pointed for the $50,000 Hot Springs at six furlongs on March 23, trainer Cole Norman said.

That Tat was making his first start since Sept. 28 in the optional claimer. Last year, he won the $40,000 Folklore at Louisiana Downs.

* Crafty Shaw, one of the top handicap horses on the grounds, came out of his win in an optional claimer last Saturday in good order, Trainer Pete Vestal said Crafty Shaw will now prepare to defend his title in the Grade 3, $100,000 Essex at Oaklawn on Feb. 22.

* Trainer Kari Craddock said Mav Cat, second to Sir Cherokee in a conditioned allowance on Saturday, will be nominated to the $75,000 Southwest for 3-year-olds on March 1. Last year, Mav Cat ran third in the $30,000 Clever Trevor and fourth in the $75,000 MEC Mile, both at Remington.

* Temperence Time, winner of the Remington Park Derby in 1999, will make his 7-year-old debut for trainer Kenny Smith in the seventh race Thursday, a $30,000 claimer.