01/16/2006 12:00AM

La Nina Fria logical pace play


Many trainers familiar to Kentucky horseplayers are represented in the eighth race at Turfway Park on Wednesday, including Becky Maker, who sends forth a promising Chester House filly named Listen, and David Carroll, who has entered late-running Stormin Wife in the entry-level allowance sprint.

And then there is a name familiar to racing fans everywhere: Michael Dickinson, who has sent a small contingent of horses to Turfway this winter and will deploy his second starter of the winter-spring meet in La Nina Fria.

Dickinson, whose primary training base is Tapeta Farm, the sprawling facility he owns and operates in northeastern Maryland, last ran La Nina Fria on Nov. 5 at Laurel Park, and the mare went last to first to defeat maiden special weight company at five furlongs on turf. With ample speed in evidence among her eight Wednesday rivals - Bluegrass Breeze has plenty of gas and figures to take early heat from Wheneverweremember, Listen, and/or Country Diva - the pace scenario might well unfold in favor of La Nina Fria and her come-from-behind style.

If not, then Listen could be the filly to beat. Owned by Springwood LLC, Listen won her first and only race as a proverbial good thing on Dec. 23 at Turfway, leading at every call to prevail by two lengths when dispatched as a 5-2 favorite.

Stormin Wife also rates a solid chance, having respectable finishes in tougher allowance company in her most recent attempts at the Churchill Downs fall meet.

As an aside, La Nina Fria and Stormin Wife are two of three non-Kentucky-breds in the field. Turfway has developed a purse structure that very much favors Kentucky-breds. They will compete for a total purse of $25,000, whereas La Nina Fria, Stormin Wife, and Country Diva will compete for a total of just $11,000.

The Wednesday card also includes a $23,000 maiden special weight sprint (race 6), which drew a full field, and a one-mile starter allowance (race 7). First post is 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., is one of the few racetracks open for business Wednesday. Major tracks such as Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, and Louisiana Downs opted to go dark Wednesday after being open on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.