08/05/2003 11:00PM

Understudy gets shot at leading role

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Trainer Steve Hobby's "A" team will take the field Saturday at Arlington. Friday, the backups get their chance.

Hobby has Sue's Good News ready to start here Saturday in the $100,000 Singapore Plate, where she will have a chance to rebound from a sixth-place finish last month in the $500,000 Delaware Oaks. Hobby theorizes that Sue's Good News tied up before the start of the race, since she was listless during the warm-up period and raced without picking up the bit from start to finish.

Sue's Good News has tied up before, and other minor issues of timing and health have put dents in what might have been a stakes-laden campaign. This spring at Oaklawn, Hobby picked her out her as the cream of a deep crop of 3-year-old fillies in his barn. Two others, Smart Juliet and Casual Attitude, were entered in Friday's Arlington feature, a second-level filly and mare allowance at one mile.

Smart Juliet plays second fiddle to Sue's Good News, but she may have an edge on Hobby's other 3-year-old fillies, and if Smart Juliet can translate her sprint success to a one-turn mile Friday, she also should have an edge on her five opponents.

Smart Juliet has never raced beyond six furlongs, but she has a relaxed stalking style that should allow her to race effectively at a one-turn mile. Bred and owed by Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, Smart Juliet is by Dance Brightly and out of a Lyphard's Ridge mare, and there is nothing in her pedigree that precludes success at this extended distance. Moreover, Smart Juliet comes off a second-place finish to Double Audit, one of the fastest 3-year-old fillies on the grounds, and in that start she finished six lengths ahead of the third-place horse.

As for Casual Attitude, she pressed a quick pace and tired to fourth in her last out, a nine-furlong, two-turn race here. She may appreciate turning back to a mile, the trip at which she won a first-level allowance early this meet. But if you like her, you may like Kristina's Wish better.

Kristina's Wish, too, turns back from a two-turn route to a one-turn mile, and she ran last out like a horse who would appreciate a turn-back in distance. She roared out to a big early lead, but slowed in the stretch and finished a tiring third. At this middle-distance trip, Kristina's Wish may settle into a more comfortable stride, and her best race makes her a contender in this group.