05/07/2008 12:00AM

Nic the Quick looks ready for turf return


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Trainer Michelle Boyce doesn't claim many horses, relying instead on sales purchases and homebreds to maintain her stable. Boyce trots out a lot of maidens every year; some rise through the ranks, some go nowhere at all.

Two Boyce-trained turf horses that actually made it, Jennie R. and Best of Buddies, are no longer part of the stable's arsenal. Jennie R. was sold at auction last fall after winning the Grade 3 Modesty at Arlington, while Best of Buddies has been sidelined with physical problems since he upset the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby in fall 2006. It remains to be seen if other horses can step up and assume leading roles in the operation.

One who might go somewhere - on turf, at least - is Nic the Quick, who was one of 12 horses entered in the eighth race Friday at Arlington, an entry-level turf allowance restricted to Illinois-breds. The 10-race card also includes an open entry-level Polytrack sprint allowance (race 9) that drew a relatively undistinguished field of eight.

The Illinois-bred race, carded for about 1 1/16 miles, might have drawn so many entries in part because the weather forecast looked wet when this card was drawn Sunday; some horsemen may have been hoping for a switch to Polytrack. But after a chance of rain Wednesday night, the current prediction is for dry weather thereafter. That could keep the Friday races on turf - a good thing for Nic the Quick.

By the Danzig sire Nicholas, Nic the Quick showed little in three dirt races dating to December 2006, but a switch to turf last fall at Hawthorne spurred immediate improvement. A vastly improved second at odds of 17-1 in his grass debut, Nic the Quick won an Illinois-bred maiden special in November by more than four lengths, running a quick mile on the Hawthorne turf while looking pretty good in so doing. It's fair to wonder how far along Nic the Quick will be when making his first start since December, when he confirmed his distaste for dirt with another poor showing. However, Nic the Quick has steady works dating to March and may be ready to go.

Of his two most obvious rivals, Call Me Goer may rate an edge over The Alcova Kid, if only because the former got in a race at the Hawthorne meet.