09/01/2005 12:00AM

Miss Terrible a cut above Matron foes


CHICAGO - Miss Terrible lives like a pampered princess. She is one of only two horses in the care of trainer Brad Ross, a longtime blacksmith, and Ross lavishes attention on her. Miss Terrible trains like a typical racehorse, but her days are punctuated by rolls in a sandpit beside her barn and regular walks around the Arlington Park backstretch.

In fact, the surprising thing early Thursday afternoon was that Miss Terrible was actually in her stall.

"She's eating and messing around right now," Ross said. "I walked her three times yesterday, and it wore me out. She's ready to go out now, but I have some work to do."

goes to work Saturday, when she starts in the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap. Six others were entered in the race, though For Gillian was nursing a minor illness in midweek and could be scratched.

If Miss Terrible lives a different lifestyle than her Matron opponents, she also has a higher class level as a racehorse. A winner in 10 of her 15 starts, Miss Terrible won several Group 1's in her native Argentina and made her last two starts in Grade 1 company on turf. Saturday, she turns back in distance to 1 1/8 miles and returns to dirt, on which she has compiled a record of four wins and a second in five starts.

"In my heart, she should be able to win this easy, but it's all a matter of how the pace sets up and what happens," said Ross.

Ross is the fourth trainer of Miss Terrible, an Argentine champion in 2002. Purchased out of South America by her current owners, Carol and Chip Hammersmith, Miss Terrible missed 18 months because of injury after making two U.S. starts in 2003. She won her first two races after the long layoff, taking the Las Flores at Santa Anita, a dirt sprint, and the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs. She comes into the Arlington Matron with two losses in a row, however, most recently finishing last of nine - but beaten less than seven lengths - in the Beverly D. The 1 1/8 miles on dirt is also a question, since Miss Terrible looked more like a dirt miler in Argentina.

"You know, I anticipate her running really well, but I'm always concerned about the distance with her," Ross said. "I'd prefer if it were a mile and a sixteenth."

, a winner of Arlington's prep for the Matron, is the logical alternative to Miss Terrible, but if the pace is going to be solid, the improving stretch-runner Kristy Beethoven also merits a look.