04/29/2003 11:00PM

Bien Nicole goes back to best surface


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Bien Nicole, who won four consecutive stakes on turf last year but has raced on dirt in both of her starts this year, returns to turf in Friday's seventh race at Lone Star Park.

The one-mile allowance drew seven fillies and mares, including Cherylville Slew, winner of the $75,000 Irving Distaff. The $42,500 race will serve as the final local prep for the Grade 3, $200,000 WinStar Distaff at Lone Star on May 26.

The WinStar is a goal for Bien Nicole. She won the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup in her seasonal debut March 15. She returned three weeks later and finished sixth to Horse of the Year Azeri in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom.

Since then, Bien Nicole has worked sharply at Lone Star for Donnie Von Hemel, who trains the mare for Kris and John Richter.

"I think she's better on the turf," said Von Hemel.

Last year, Von Hemel guided Bien Nicole through a 6-for-10 campaign. She won five straight races on turf, a streak that started over the Lone Star course when she won a $50,000 optional claimer July 5.

From there, she won the $50,000 Margarita Breeders' Cup at Retama Park on Aug. 3; the $150,000 River Cities Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 7; the $150,000 DeBartolo Memorial over male rival Candid Glen at Remington Park on Sept. 29; and the $100,000 Estrapade Handicap at Arlington Park Oct. 25.

Bien Nicole closed out her season with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Cardinal at Churchill Downs, and was given some time off to regroup from her campaign. Don Pettinger, who was aboard for all of her starts last year, has the call Friday.

Cherylville Slew tried turf for the first time in her last start and was a half-length winner of the Irving Distaff at Lone Star at 28-1. She has worked five furlongs in a sharp 1:00.40 since that race. She also is being pointed for the WinStar.

E.J. Perrodin has the mount for owner-trainer C.R. Trout.

Bien Nicole and Cherylville Slew both figure to be stalking the front-running Eagle Lake, who was a turf allowance winner in her last start. Last year, she put together a string of five consecutive wins, two of them in turf stakes. Gerard Melancon has the mount for trainer Cole Norman.

Completing the field are Asheville, Distant Valley, Delray Dew, and Autobesarah.

'Boots' making a comeback

Boots on Sunday resumed serious training Wednesday, one day after veterinarians said he could. They based their decision on the results of a sonogram of his tendon, which Boots on Sunday tore last October.

Boots on Sunday, a 6-year-old gelding, has been sidelined since, but the injury has healed quicker than his caretakers expected, and his trainer, Danny Pish, is hopeful he might be able to start Boots on Sunday in an allowance before the end of the Lone Star meet July 13.

Pish gave Boots on Sunday five months off after he suffered the tear in a quarter-mile blowout leading up to the $35,000 Longhorn Stakes at Retama Park last October. He resumed jogging 60 days ago, and for the past month has been galloping. He is based in San Antonio.

Boots on Sunday has been one of the region's top sprinters. He is an eight-time stakes winner, and overall has won 14 races from 35 starts for earnings of $417,965. He races for Wilton Scott, and has been trained throughout his career by Pish.