11/16/2007 12:00AM

Nicks filly tries to start new streak

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - The shorter the race, the less room for error. So when Smitty's Sunshine had a smidgen of trouble at the start of her last race, at five furlongs, trainer Morris Nicks suspected the end of a win streak might be at hand.

"It was one of those things where she didn't get away exactly right," Nicks recalled.

Smitty's Sunshine finished third in that race, the $250,000 Distaff Turf Sprint Championship at Calder, snapping a six-race win streak.

"No big excuses," Nicks said, "but as everybody knows in these kinds of races, you can't make any mistakes and expect to win."

Fourteen weeks later, Smitty's Sunshine returns in the $100,000 Mariah's Storm, a five-furlong turf race that anchors a 10-race Sunday card at Churchill Downs. Nicks said Smitty's Sunshine exited the Calder race with a foot bruise that since has healed.

"I've got her right," he said. "The time off did her well. I'm real pleased with the way she comes into this."

Nine fillies and mares are entered in the Mariah's Storm, which essentially replaces the same kind of race that Smitty's Sunshine won here last fall - the Pent Up Kiss on Nov. 12, 2006. Smitty's Sunshine, a 4-year-old Louisiana-bred, looks like a deserving favorite under Robby Albarado.

If Smitty's Sunshine doesn't come through, then Flying Circle, winner of the Aug. 11 Distaff Turf at Calder, is the most logical winner. In contrast to the front-running Smitty's Sunshine, Flying Circle puts a stretch punch to best effect, using that style to amass nearly $400,000 in earnings. Manny Aguilar has the mount again for trainer David Fawkes.

This will be the second trip that Flying Circle has made to Kentucky from her Calder base in the last five weeks. She finished a late-flying fourth, beaten only a length, in the Oct. 12 Franklin County at Keeneland in her last start.

The rest of the field for the Mariah's Storm is Marina Ballerina, Hot Storm, Taletobetold, Put Away the Halo, Miss Wellspring, Indian Breeze, and Cat on a Cloud.

The Mariah's Storm is named for the filly who defeated the great Serena's Song at Turfway Park in 1995, then later became even more famous as the dam of Giant's Causeway and as the basis for the popular movie "Dreamer."