05/03/2003 12:00AM

Hawthorne: Attico wins as favorite


STICKNEY, Ill. - Following three consecutive losing races, Attico finally got things right Saturday at Hawthorne, winning the $43,200 Nicole Stakes using a strong stretch kick.

Owned by the Wertheimer Farm LLC and Alan Wertheimer, and trained by Mike Stidham, Attico came from the back of the pack under jockey Rene Douglas and outfinished Spice Island by a half-length. Attico paid $6.40 to win as the favorite and covered 1 1/16 miles over yielding turf in 1:40.39. Spice Island clearly was second, with pacesetter I Can Fan Fan holding on for third.

The 4-year-old Attico won two straight races last summer at Arlington but went off form this winter in New Orleans. Stidham was baffled by her distant 10th-place finish in the Dec. 21 Pago Hop, and then, racing at Sam Houston and Lone Star Park in Texas, Attico suffered through tough trips.

Saturday, galloping along behind I Can Fan Fan's moderate fractions of 24.26 seconds for a quarter-mile and 49.11 for a half-mile, Attico always looked comfortable before coming off the turn and launching a powerful kick that quickly took her to the front.