08/03/2006 12:00AM

Nicole's Dream best wherever she runs

Benoit & Associates
Nicole's Dream is the one to beat on Saturday - whether she runs against females of males.

The biggest problem trainer Larry Rivelli may have Saturday at Calder is deciding in which race to run his amazing five-furlong turf specialist Nicole's Dream, who was cross-entered in the $250,000 Turf Sprint Championship Handicap as well as its filly counterpart, the $250,000 Distaff Turf Sprint Championship Handicap.

The two turf sprints highlight Saturday's card, which also includes the $100,000 Dr. Fager and $100,000 Desert Vixen stakes, opening legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes series.

Rivelli will keep his rivals guessing until Saturday morning before making a decision on where to run. Nicole's Dream will be the starting highweight under 121 pounds if she goes in the Distaff Turf, but will carry only 116 pounds if she runs against males in the Turf Sprint.

"I have up until 45 minutes before the seventh race, the first of the two stakes, to make a decision - but because we have to prepare and medicate her for the races we'll decide Saturday morning," said Rivelli, who trains Nicole's Dream for the Dare To Dream Stable LLC.

Rivelli entered in both races to see what the competition would be like and also as insurance in case Nicole's Dream were to draw an unfavorable post in one of the two races. As it turned out, she was well drawn in post 2 for the Distaff and in post 5 for the Turf Sprint.

"Right now we're probably leaning slightly towards going against the boys, only because it looks like there's less speed in the field and it might be easier for her to make the lead, if there is such a thing as an easy lead in a five-furlong turf race," said Rivelli. "The filly race has more five-furlong specialty horses, although I don't think anyone can cross our face from the 2 hole."

Wherever she goes, Nicole's Dream will be the one to beat, having won 23 of 48 career starts, 19 of the wins coming on grass.

"She's like an iron horse - 11 or 12 of her victories have come in stakes, and she owns three course records," said Rivelli. "There aren't a lot of turf sprints around, so sometimes you have to bunch her starts. The best thing about these races on Saturday are the purses. Usually you'll run against the same kind of horses for $50,000, not $250,000."

will be the 120-pound highweight in the Turf Sprint. A Kentucky invader, he is in top form, having hit the board in each of his last three starts. Those races followed a game victory by a neck in Keeneland's Grade 3 Shakertown Stakes in the spring.

Other key contenders include Justice for Auston, , Sgt. Bert, and Nacascolo.

If Nicole's Dream skips the Distaff Turf the race appears wide open, with perennial local division leader and course record-holder Whenthedoveflies looking to get back on the winning track in a field that also includes Very Vegas, Gilded Gold, Jabalski Princess, True Tails, Unbridled Sidney, and Running Bobcats.