12/02/2010 2:05PM

Hushion still confident in Nicole H

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Nicole H could be pointed to the Distaff Handicap on April 16.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Mike Hushion was impressed enough by what he saw from Nicole H in a first-level allowance win at Belmont in September to believe she was “a real contender” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The selection committee for the Breeders’ Cup was not as impressed, placing Nicole H at the bottom of the list of 22 of pre-entered horses, and she did not get into the race.

The committee’s decision looked prescient when Nicole H finished seventh of nine as the even-money favorite in the Dream Supreme Stakes at Churchill on the undercard of the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup.

Disappointed but not deterred, Hushion seeks redemption for Nicole H in Saturday’s $65,000 Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct.

“None of us have a real excuse why she ran so badly at Churchill,” Hushion said. “We’re considering it a throw-out.”

Hushion rarely uses jockeys to work his horses, but summoned Ramon Dominguez twice to breeze Nicole H “to make sure he had confidence in her,” Hushion said. On Monday, with Dominguez up, Nicole H breezed a half-mile in 48.05 seconds over Belmont’s training track, the fastest of 53 moves at the distance.

“She has been as good as always,” Dominguez said. “It’s one of those things if you had to come up with an excuse or an explanation as to why she ran so poorly, you have to blame it on the track or that she didn’t like it. She’s definitely a lot better than she showed.”

The Garland of Roses came up competitive with Grade 2 winner Tar Heel Mom, the hard-knocking New York-bred stakes winner Meese Rocks, and the equally salty New Jersey-bred filly Love That Dance.

Meese Rocks went 3 for 5 over the inner track last winter and is 6 for 8 at six furlongs. She comes off a 2 1/4-length win in the Iroquois for New York breds on Oct. 23.

“She comes out of her races as good as she goes into them,” trainer Ed Barker said. “She hasn’t given me any signs that she’s tailing off.”

Tar Heel Mom is making her first start since suffering a hind leg fracture when third in the Vagrancy in May. Before that, she won the Grade 2 Distaff over Aqueduct’s main track. Tar Heel Mom is likely to be part of the pace along with Ocean Goddess, who is returning from 14-month layoff for trainer Billy Turner.

McVictory, who has never run at six furlongs, and Don’tgetsuspicious complete the field.