11/27/2008 12:00AM

Nicks can topple high-priced rivals


STICKNEY, Ill. - Ally's Little Sis? One hundred thousand dollars. Taylor Madison? One hundred thousand dollars. The conditions governing the featured third race Saturday at Hawthorne? Unusual.

No, it is not every day that one sees a no-conditions allowance race also open to $100,000 claimers. Really - is there going to be a shake for the two horses entered under the claiming option? A $50,000 claim is rare enough these days in Chicago. Twice that price?

Ally's Little Sis and Taylor Madison were the only two in a six-horse field whose connections offered them up for a price even though any filly or mare 3 years of age or older was eligible to start under the allowance conditions. And if you're looking for the horse those conditions benefit, look no farther than Nicks.

With five career wins, including three in a row this fall and a last-out Illinois-bred stakes victory, Nicks was not going to qualify for many allowance races on the planet. This one, she gets into, and though Nicks must pick up six pounds off her stakes victory, and spots main rival Missy Biscuit nine pounds, she'll be difficult to beat.

Nicks, a 4-year-old by Salt Lake, is the heir apparent to the three longtime Illinois-bred-stakes horses being retired from trainer Christine Janks's barn this winter: Stop a Train, Modjadji, and Pretty Jenny. In the Nov. 1 Powerless Handicap, Nicks' stakes debut, she rallied up the fence under Ryan Fogelsonger, took the lead from Pretty Jenny in midstretch, and held off her game stablemate to win by a neck. Nicks came back to post a six-furlong work on Nov. 19, a strong sign that she is going to maintain her form.

Missy Biscuit, who has drawn the rail for the seventh time in 11 starts during 2008, has a slight chance. Nicks will break from post 6, and should she be caught a little wide on a decent pace, Missy Biscuit and Inez Karlsson might sneak up the fence for a late challenge. Ally's Little Sis turns back from a route to a sprint, and should improve.

Much lower odds are being offered on a Nicks upset, however, than a $100,000 claim being dropped before the Saturday feature.