02/01/2009 12:00AM

Waquoit's Love fit for Suwannee River


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hopefully, this year's edition of the $125,000 Suwannee River will be a lot less controversial than last year's.

The 2008 Suwannee River was originally won by Green Girl. Seven weeks and two appeals hearings later, Green Girl was disqualified and placed last for failing to carry her entire weight assignment from paddock to post. The decision elevated Waquoit's Love, who was beaten less than a length, from fourth to third, a placing trainer Tim Hills hopes to improve upon without any help from the judges when Waquoit's Love returns Sunday to face nine rivals in the Grade 3 turf race for fillies and mares.

Waquoit's Love went to the sidelines for nearly five months following the 2008 Suwannee River, and Hills said it took him a long time to get her back into form good enough for her to score a rail-skimming, neck victory three weeks ago in the Marshua's River Stakes.

"She developed an abscess in her foot last year after the Suwannee River and missed six weeks of training," said Hills. "And because she's such a big mare she lost conditioning, and it took me forever to get her back on her best game. But once she gets good she stays good, so why not run her right back off that last win? I like the three weeks. I don't have to pound on her training in between starts, and she's certainly a horse for the course, so it makes good sense to take advantage of this opportunity."

Waquoit's Love will carry 120 pounds under the allowance conditions of the 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River, two less than Callwood Dancer, The Niagara Queen, and Mushka.

Callwood Dancer and The Niagara Queen raced almost exclusively last year at Woodbine before shipping south and ending their 2008 seasons at Calder. Callwood Dancer had the better success of the two across town, finishing second behind Wild Promises in the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap. The Niagara Queen tired badly and finished ninth after opening a long lead in the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap a week later.

Callwood Dancer has finished second in 3 of her last 4 starts, including the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor, and she finished ahead of The Niagara Queen on several occasions last year at Woodbine.

The Niagara Queen, who was transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher's barn late last year, won the Grade 2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine in July.

Mushka was prominent for six furlongs while hung wide before fading to the rear of the pack in the Marshua's River. A daughter of Empire Maker, she won the Grade 2 Demoiselle over Aqueduct's main track at 2.

Flibberjibit, a former low-level claimer, has won 6 of her last 8 starts, but will be making her stakes debut on Sunday.