09/04/2002 11:00PM

Bien Nicole's versatility gives her edge

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Bien Nicole has learned a new trick just in time for the biggest test of her career, which comes Saturday in the $150,000 River Cities Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

Once stuck on speed, Bien Nicole closed from well back to win the $50,000 Margarita Breeders' Cup on Aug. 3 at Retama Park.

This new dimension should give her an edge when she takes on seven other fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf in the River Cities. Among her chief rivals are Due to Win Again, the developing Golden Rhythm, Wild Squaw, and a refreshed Euryanthe.

Bien Nicole's speed served her well this summer at Lone Star Park. She made five starts at the meet, and won two allowances and placed second or third in three others. She was prominent from the start in each of those races. Last month, however, Bien Nicole took her talent to another level when she closed to win the Margarita, her second straight victory.

"I thought her last start was probably her best race of the summer," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Bien Nicole for John and Kristine Richter. "She settled, and that made the difference. It made her a couple of lengths better."

Bien Nicole's natural speed and newfound ability to conserve her energy makes her a threat no matter the pace scenario in the River Cities. She is in a good position to determine how the race unfolds as she will break outside of her rivals in post 8.

Don Pettinger, who was five wins from career victory 3,000 going into the races Friday, has the return call on Bien Nicole, who worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 last week.

Tim Doocy will be aboard Due to Win Again, who used her tactical speed to win the $50,000 Honeymoon at a mile on turf at Louisiana Downs on June 29. In her most recent start, she finished second to her half-sister Due to Win in the $50,000 Sangue Handicap. Due to Win Again is trained by Eddie Ruiz, and will be coupled with Dyna Penny.

Another to consider is Golden Rhythm, who finished third in the Margarita and fourth last out in the Sangue. She is a consistent runner who is bound to break through with a stakes win soon for owner Sandstone Racing Partnership and trainer Paul Murphy. Golden Rhythm will be ridden by Gerard Melancon.

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