07/22/2005 12:00AM

Nicole's Dream should extend domination


CHICAGO - That Nicole's Dream is racing Sunday at Arlington scarcely qualifies as news. If she were to miss a turn, that would be news.

Hickory, iron - go ahead and choose your metaphorical substance. If it is meant to represent sturdiness, solidity, it fits Nicole's Dream. Partway through her 5-year-old season, has already made 38 starts. She ran 10 times last year, and has gotten in six starts so far this season. And they are not just running her out there for show. Nicole's Dream is one of the biggest winners in horse racing over the last several seasons, with an amazing 18 victories in those 38 races.

Sunday at Arlington, in the $45,000 J J'sdream Stakes, Nicole's Dream should notch number 19. Barring bad luck, a wet turf course, or a sudden form reversal, Nicole's Dream will win the J J'sdream at something less than even money.

Her niche is narrow - strictly turf sprints - but Nicole's Dream has managed to bang out more than $504,000 in purse money, most of it since a Dare to Dream Stable partnership purchased her and Nicole's Dream fell into the lap of trainer Larry Rivelli. In grass sprints, Nicole's Dream has gone 24-14-4-1, and if the ground is dry, she is virtually unbeatable. In 15 starts on firm turf, Nicole's Dream has won 11 times, and she is likely to get the going she prefers on Sunday.

Nicole's Dream got her start at tiny Great Lakes Downs, and made her first 12 starts either there or at Tampa Bay Downs. But the horse will run anywhere, if she gets to do what she does best. Rivelli has done fine work keeping her going, and surely has spent more than a few hours perusing stakes books, picking out turf sprints around the country. So far, Nicole's Dream has raced at 13 different venues, but with six wins from eight starts here, Arlington must be among her favorites.

With post 2 and a lightning-like burst from the gate, Nicole's Dream should easily make the front in the J J'sdream, and on paper, at least, there is nobody to displace her.

makes her first start in nearly a year, but has never tried a turf sprint, and is bred to like one. No Llores Catita failed to fire in Nicole's Dream's June 17 Arlington romp, but was a good second to the sharp grass sprinter Miss Victory early this season.