08/27/2003 11:00PM

Ding's Thing tries to stay unbeaten


Tim Hamm knows about precocious 2-year-old fillies. Two years ago, Hamm sent out Joanies Bella to sweep the Bassinet Stakes at River Downs and Arlington-Washington Lassie, marking perhaps the most rewarding span of Hamm's eight-year training career.

On Saturday, Hamm will be at River Downs in Cincinnati again, trying to keep another promising filly on the path to stardom. Ding's Thing, unbeaten in her first three starts, will represent Hamm as the favorite in the $100,000 Bassinet, a six-furlong race that drew 11 2-year-old fillies.

Ding's Thing has been untouchable since capturing her career debut by 7 1/2 lengths in early July at Thistledown, where Hamm is based. She won just as handily when facing Ohio-bred fillies in the Tah Dah at River, then toyed with Ohio-breds of both genders in the Hoover at River in her most recent appearance four weeks ago.

"She has pretty much run everything off their feet so far," Hamm said earlier this week from Cleveland. "We're really high on her, although obviously she hasn't been tested yet. We'll see how she handles this race, then maybe look toward the Lassie again, just like we did with Joanies Bella."

Ding's Thing, by Langfuhr, has flaunted a terrific turn of foot in her three races, but Hamm believes she has the capability to carry that speed. "She's a big, strapping filly," said Hamm, 37. "We've been training her toward more distance, and she acts like she'll handle it just fine."

Ding's Thing will be ridden again by Julio Felix in the Bassinet, which attracted several interesting Kentucky shippers.

Three of the Kentucky fillies won maiden races at Ellis Park in their latest start, including Stoneway, a Bernie Flint-trained filly. A victory by Stoneway would give Flint his fourth in the Bassinet, adding to his three consecutive wins from 1989-91.

The other top threats from Kentucky are Mocha Queen, a sharp maiden winner Aug. 7 for trainer Mike Lauer, and In Rome, whose trainer, Dave Vance, won the 2000 Bassinet with Caressing.

Fringe contenders in the 21st Bassinet include the first three finishers in the Aug. 10 prep at River: Snappy Little Cat, Plaza South, and Down By the Sea.

The Bassinet begins closing weekend of the River meet. The meet highlight is on closing day - the $200,000 Cradle Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race that will have Blushing Indian as a solid favorite for trainer Dale Romans.