06/08/2008 11:00PM

Gilchrist's girls on a roll


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Greg Gilchrist has a way with the girls.

It started with Soviet Problem and Work the Crowd, a pair of California champions. Last Friday, he brought the undefeated 3-year-old filly Indyanne back from nine months on the sidelines to win her comeback against older by seven lengths, running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.57.

On Sunday, Wild Promises won her second straight stakes, capturing the 1 3/8-mile Yerba Buena at Golden Gate Fields, and at Emerald Downs, Victorina returned from eight months on the sidelines to win the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths in her first start in eight months.

Indyanne will be pointed to the Grade 3 Azalea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the July 12 Summit of Speed card at Calder. Victorina could wind up in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney there as well. They could be joined at Calder by a male stablemate, Vicarino, who will be headed to the Grade 2 Smile if he wins this Saturday's Oakland Handicap.

Despite meeting older females for the first time, Indyanne was the class of Friday's field. She was supposed to win, and she did. Impressively.

"When you're starting one out young or coming off a layoff, you always like the race they come into not to be the toughest they'll run in," Gilchrist said.

Indyanne and her stablemates now have five weeks to prepare for the Summit of Speed.

The 5-year-old Victorina surpassed the $500,000 mark in career earnings with her victory at Emerald.

As for Wild Promises, she is on track to face tougher after her front-running victory in the Yerba Buena.

"She beat some pretty nice horses, and being able to run this far opens up a lot of avenues," Gilchrist said. "It might be time to go somewhere and stretch her out with graded company."

From news anchor to exercise rider

The exercise rider Katie Nielsen, 26, is seldom recognized when she works horses on weekends at Golden Gate Fields. But in Reno, it's a different story. She was the news anchor for KREN television before a change in format took her off the air. She hopes to join another Reno station in July when her exclusive KREN contract expires.

Nielsen used to go to Santa Anita with her grandmother when she was a little girl and had ridden horses all her life. While working for the NBC station in Little Rock, Ark., a few years ago, she went to Oaklawn Park on an assignment about female jockeys. She interviewed trainer Donald Caudill, and when the interview ended, she told Caudill, "I want to learn to ride racehorses."

Caudill invited her to his farm, where she mucked stalls, walked hots, and never got aboard a horse.

"He said he could see I was serious, so he put me on a pony horse and I'd gallop beside a racehorse," she said. "Then he put me on a horse beside a pony."

After moving to Reno two years ago, she contacted the trainer Ellen Jackson, and Nielsen has been riding for Jackson on weekends since last summer. She doesn't take a dime.

She did, however, purchase Lady Long Gone from Jackson and has the horse in Reno, where she is training her for hunter/jumper competition.

Exercising horses at the track and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge as she gallops around the far turn at Golden Gate Fields is Nielsen's "slice of heaven."

"I find it hard to describe the feeling I get," Nielsen said. "I can't do it justice. I can't put the sensation into words. The whole world stops for me. I just see the rail and where I'm going. All I feel is an amazingly fit athlete under me. For me, it's the most peaceful feeling in the whole wide world."

Bonfante on fence for Oakland

Saturday's $75,000 Oakland Handicap at six furlongs could be chapter one of a two-race rivalry between Vicarino and Bonfante. Both could end up in Florida in the Grade 2, $400,000 Smile Handicap at Calder's Summit of Speed.

The owner Lewis Figone said Bonfante was going to run there, and the Oakland could be a perfect prep timing-wise. Trainer Ron McAnally only lists him as "probable" for the Oakland early in the week.

Vicarino is definite for the Oakland, Gilchrist said, as are Acquire the Fire, Jack Hes Tops, and Restless Youth. In addition to Bonfante, Call on Carson, Incurable Lou, and Sailors Sunset are listed as probable.

* Golden Gate Fields and its satellite locations handled a record $7,946,854 in all-sources wagering on Belmont Day, breaking the previous Belmont Day record of $7,902,066 set in 2002.o