11/19/2003 12:00AM

Another course for Bowman Mill


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bowman Mill has run over seven turf courses in 10 starts, overcoming an injury in 2000 and becoming a stakes winner this year at age 5.

This week, the Maryland-based Bowman Mill starts on his eighth turf course, and his first in California, in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles.

Trainer Michael Dickinson chose the Turf Cup in an effort to avoid a soft turf course.

"He should like the firmer turf here," Dickinson said.

Like many of Dickinson's top horses over the years, Bowman Mill has been lightly campaigned. He won his maiden in his career debut at Belmont Park in October 2000, but suffered a hind leg injury shortly thereafter that has affected his career.

"It occasionally comes back to niggle him," Dickinson said.

Owned by John Chandler of Kentucky, Bowman Mill won his first stakes in the Sky Classic Handicap on soft turf at Woodbine in Toronto on Sept. 28, conditions that Dickinson insists did not suit the 5-year-old.

"He didn't like the soft going," Dickinson said.

Most recently, Bowman Mill was fourth in the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 19. In that race, over 1 1/2 miles on turf, Bowman Mill was always near the pace over a yielding surface, led with a quarter-mile remaining, but faded in the final furlong to lose by 1 3/4 lengths to Phoenix Reach.

Wednesday, Bowman Mill worked a half-mile on turf in 52.30 seconds, running closer to the outside rail than the inside rail. Dickinson said he was not looking for a fast time, but noticed that Bowman Mill was tough to pull up.

"He was a bit keen," Dickinson said. "That was all right."

Despite his recent stakes win, Bowman Mill will be a longshot Saturday.

The Tin Man, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, will be a strong favorite.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said he plans to start Epicentre and Staging Post and was withholding a decision on the status of the mare Megahertz until Thursday, when entries were due.

Other candidates are Labirinto, Like a Hero, and Runaway Dancer, the upset winner of the Carleton Burke Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

Matriarch should have 14

A field of 14 is likely for the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes on Nov. 30, the first running of the 23-year-old race at the distance of a mile on turf.

Dress to Thrill, the defending champion, is among the top candidates, along with Adoration, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff; Musical Chimes, the runner-up in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes, who won the French 1000 Guineas; and Island Fashion, the winner of the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in the summer.

Adoration was scheduled to work on turf on Thursday, and a decision on whether she would start in the Matriarch or the Bayakoa Handicap on dirt on Dec. 7 will be made in coming days.

Island Fashion was shipped to trainer Marcelo Polanco earlier this fall but has yet to start in California. She was being pointed for the $200,000 Las Palmas Handicap on Nov. 9, but the race was canceled because of a purse reduction in the final two weeks of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

"We needed to run in that race," Polanco said.

Island Fashion worked five furlongs in 1:00 on Tuesday at Santa Anita, but Polanco said she is not a definite for the Matriarch Stakes. Owned by Everest Stable, Island Fashion has not started since finishing sixth in the Beldame Stakes and is winless since the Alabama Stakes in August.

"We're still undecided whether we'll start," Polanco said. "One way or another it will be fine with me."

Other Matriarch candidates are Acago, Belleski, Chopinina, Dancal, Dedication, Heat Haze, Etoile Montante, Maiden Tower, Magic Mission, and Miss Terrible.

Etoile Montante won the Group 1 Prix de la Foret against males in France last month and would be making her U.S. debut.

The Matriarch was run over 1 1/8 miles on turf from it first running in 1981 until 1994, over 1 1/4 miles on turf from 1995-98, and again over 1 1/8 miles on turf from 1999-2002.

Little rest for Ruis

Apprentice jockey Mick Ruis plans to ride as many as seven days a week in coming months, taking advantage of the differences in racing schedules between Southern California and Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

Ruis is the leading rider at Turf Paradise, having won 57 races through Tuesday. He finished second with his only mount at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, Are You Lookn in the third race, and was not booked to ride on Thursday.

Friday, Ruis has nine mounts at Turf Paradise. He is likely to ride at Hollywood Park only on Wednesdays and Thursdays in coming weeks, he said.

Ruis, 16, launched his career in April at Hollywood Park and rode in California through the Del Mar meeting before relocating to Phoenix. He said the experience of riding more frequently at Turf Paradise since late September has helped his confidence.

"When I left here it was all right, but now it's much better," he said. "I was confident because I was riding with the best jockeys in the world here."

Ruis will hold his apprentice condition until next August. His 2004 goal is to win the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice.

Rich barn gets richer

Bobby Frankel has added two stakes winners to his barn - Aspen Gal, a stakes winner in the Midwest, and Nothing to Lose, a two-time stakes winner in Florida earlier this year.

Aspen Gal has been acquired by Edmund Gann, who owns top handicap horse Medaglia d'Oro. Aspen Gal has won stakes at Prairie Meadows and Remington Park this year. Frankel said Aspen Gal may be pointed for the $250,000 Delta Princess Stakes over a mile at Delta Downs on Dec. 5, or the Starlet Stakes here on Dec. 21.

Nothing to Lose was transferred to Frankel by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Previously trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Nothing to Lose is unbeaten in four starts on turf, including the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park and the Tropical Park Derby at Calder.

Frankel said that Nothing to Lose will be kept to turf and pointed for the Santa Anita meeting.