09/10/2004 12:00AM

Nicks tries to stay on major roll


Trainer Morris Nicks has won more races this meet than he has horses in training at Louisiana Downs, a significant accomplishment. Sunday, he can continue his exceptional run in the featured ninth race with Onlycook Half Ofit.

Onlycook Half Ofit will be making his second start back from close to a one-year layoff in the one-mile optional claimer on turf. The purse is $27,000, and the horse to beat is Ba Ba Boom, who won his only previous start on turf at Louisiana Downs.

was ready for his comeback Aug. 6, when he rolled to a four-length win in a $25,000 claiming race. The start was his first since Sept. 21, 2003, and Nicks did a crafty job spotting him.

"I might have to say I cheated a little bit," he said of the class drop. "He was meant to be a nice horse."

Donnie Meche will ride Onlycook Half Ofit, a 5-year-old son of Siphon who races for Long Island Bay Farm.

Onlycook Half Ofit wired the field in his comeback, but figures to get a stalking trip behind the quick Ba Ba Boom, who ran the opening six furlongs of a seven-furlong race in 1:10 last out before finishing second to Cajole.

moves back to two turns and turf. The last time he ran on grass he was a 1 1/2-length winner over the stakes-placed Iceandwater in a two-other-than allowance in May. John Jacinto has the mount for leading trainer Cole Norman.

Nicks, who ranks fourth in the standings, has had 15 horses in training for most of the meet, and he has won 21 races from 52 starters for a win rate of 40 percent. In the last few weeks, he has brought in a couple of 2-year-olds to bring his stable's head count to 19.

Nicks briefly raced at Louisiana Downs last year, but decided to stay for the entire meet this season. The move has paid dividends.

"Basically, the horses are happy and doing good and they peaked at the right time," he said.

That is the case for Onlycook Half Ofit, as well as Northern Scene, who beat older horses last weekend while winning his fourth race at the meet in the $50,000 Sport City Handicap. Nicks said Northern Scene will return to racing with 3-year-olds for his next start, which will come in the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial on turf on the Super Derby undercard, Sept. 25.

Nicks said he plans to send some of his horses to Churchill Downs this fall.