09/30/2003 11:00PM

Go for Puddin still goes for it


STICKNEY, Ill. - She has never been a star racehorse, nor will she ever be. And Go for Puddin won't go with any great fanfare to the breeding shed for a career as a broodmare. But in an age in which longevity is in short supply, Go for Puddin is one rare mare that has maintained her form in the face of advancing age.

Go for Puddin is 6 and still running as well as she did two years ago, and she is one of 10 horses entered to start in the featured race on Friday at Hawthorne. The race is for third-level allowance horses or $35,000 claimers at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Go for Puddin runs for the claiming price, but that's what she is - a claiming horse.

"She's a good, solid mare," said her trainer, Leo Gabriel. Indeed, when Gabriel and Go for Puddin's group of owners lost the mare via a $25,000 in July, they wasted no time claiming her back for $35,000 five weeks later.

"She's got her problems that you have to take care of, but she always tries, that's for sure," Gabriel said. "When we get a horse like this, that's okay, we want to hang onto them. Otherwise, you're going to have to reach in and take one you don't know anything about."

We know about Go for Puddin, and $25,000 to $35,000 claimers are her thing. When she wins, she doesn't win by much, but neither is Go for Puddin subject to throwing in clunkers. She was sixth in her lone start since Gabriel reclaimed her, but Go for Puddin was beaten only two lengths, and she has a stalking style that plays well over the Hawthorne grass course.

Her primary rivals Friday may be Red Wildcat and Red Mimi - the former a closer, the latter a pace horse. The two met in a $50,000 claimer Aug. 31 at Arlington, with Red Wildcat rallying for a half-length win over Red Mimi, who changed tactics to race from just off the early pace that day. With no true speed in Friday's field, and noted gate rider Randy Meier named to ride, Red Mimi may make a bid to control the pace, and would be tough to catch if allowed to do so.

Nicole's Dream itching to race

The connections of Nicole's Dream are scouring the country - even the world - for filly-and-mare turf sprints. On Sept. 26 at Arlington, Nicole's Dream easily won her third straight race - all at five furlongs on grass - beating California shipper Margarita Midnight in the $45,000 Lazer Show Stakes. Ten days later, in a starter-allowance, Nicole's Dream set an Arlington track record of 56.20 seconds for the distance.

"She loves the turf. She's a freak on the turf," said Larry Rivelli, Nicole's Dream's trainer.

Nicole's Dream came into Rivelli's barn late in the summer, when the Dare to Dream Stable 4 purchased her privately. She's now 3 for 3 for her new connections, and probably is headed to a Keeneland for the $75,000 Clark County Stakes on Oct. 16.

"We'll go there if everything's okay with her," Rivelli said. "She had to work a little harder the last time, but she came out of the race fine."