11/29/2001 12:00AM

Dollar Bill on comeback trail for stakes-rich Stewart

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NEW ORLEANS - You can hardly turn around in the Dallas Stewart barn these days without running into a stakes horse.

Stewart went down the Kentucky Derby trail with Dollar Bill here last season and won the Breeders' Cup Distaff this fall with Unbridled Elaine, who trained here last winter. Both those horses will again spend the winter in New Orleans, and are part of the reason Stewart should be active in several stakes divisions during the meet.

Stewart said he is tentatively pointing Dollar Bill to a comeback in the Feb. 10 Whirlaway Handicap here, with his major goal the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 3. Dollar Bill, a tough-luck case all year, finished third in a pair of Grade 1 races after leaving Fair Grounds, where he nearly fell while finishing fourth in the Louisiana Derby.

"He's made almost $700,000 the hard way," Stewart said.

Dollar Bill was third in his last race, the Grade 1 Travers, after which he had a bone chip surgically removed from his ankle. Stewart said the ankle seems fine, and after two weeks of jogging, Dollar Bill has only recently resumed galloping.

Unbridled Elaine, third in the Falls City on Churchill's closing weekend, is scheduled to arrive here in a few days. "The pace really didn't set up for her in the last race, but maybe she was showing us she needed a break," said Stewart.

Unbridled Elaine will take it easy for about a month here before Stewart begins cranking her up for a 2002 campaign. Her season could begin at Fair Grounds in the Feb. 23 Chou Croute Handicap, which could serve as a springboard to the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park.

Stewart also said the stakes winner Sweet Nanette is nearing a return to the races, and that he will look to run Yoga, his most promising 3-year-old colt, in an upcoming race here.

Nasty Storm brewing

Another of Stewart's horses, Nasty Storm, is training at Fair Grounds but will probably make her next start in California. Stewart said that the budding star is likely to run Dec. 29 in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita.

Nasty Storm, 13th in the Kentucky Oaks, has blossomed since returning from a short break this summer at Saratoga, where she charged from far back after a horrible start to finish third in the Grade 1 Test Stakes. Since then, Nasty Storm has won three straight, most recently the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff. Stewart said he will keep Nasty Storm in sprint races for the time being, but did not rule out a return to routes later in the year.

Sugar Bowl for Lead by Example

Trainer Josie Carroll said the 2-year-old colt Lead by Example, upset winner of the Old Hickory Stakes here last weekend, will likely be kept sprinting for the time being. She said his next start will probably be in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl at six furlongs Dec. 31.

Classy pair return

Saturday's sixth race, a first-level allowance route, has drawn a pair of comebackers who last raced in graded stakes. Arctic Boy, in fact, made his last start in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished a badly beaten 12th. Stable Secret, off since April 21, was fifth in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

Stable Secret, an Unbridled colt, has been working well here for trainer Mike Stidham.