05/14/2004 12:00AM

Nicole's Dream sidesteps stakes


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Entered in the $75,000 The Very One Stakes at Pimlico on Friday, Nicole's Dream was scratched by trainer Larry Rivelli. She is in a much weaker field in Sunday's seventh race at Churchill Downs, and it is her opponents that might be hoping for a way out.

, a winner of 12 of 24 starts and $261,917 for the Dare to Dream Stable, is a deserving favorite against seven rivals in the $66,800 turf allowance at five furlongs. Last month when racing five furlongs at Churchill Downs, she won the Mamzelle Stakes by a nose, gamely turning back a challenge from Tangier Sound when passed in midstetch.

That win, her first of the year, followed a successful 2003 in which she won 9 of 17 starts. In particular, Nicole's Dream was dominant in Chicago, winning all five of her turf starts at Arlington and Hawthorne Park. Robby Albarado rides.

Although Sunday's allowance is a more favorable spot than The Very One, Nicole's Dream will have to work to win. Big Score finished a close third behind her and Tangier Sound in the April 29 Mamzelle. Chasing Nicole's Dream from the start, Big Score gradually cut into her lead in the stretch, losing by a neck.

That was Big Score's first race on turf. Big Score had won three consecutive dirt races at Sunland Park, including two stakes. Trainer Steve Asmussen has given the mount to Shane Sellers.

An intriguing entrant is , who has worked four consecutive bullets leading up to her first start in more than a year and a half. A $9,000 yearling purchase by owner Greg James, she won the first three starts of her career before James sold majority interest in her to the 3+ U Stable in the summer of 2002. James said he sold 90 percent of her for $400,000 and retained 10 percent interest himself.

Turned over to trainer Bobby Frankel, she raced twice later in 2002, finishing seventh as the favorite in the Grade 1 Prioress and sixth on grass in the San Clemente Handicap.

Unraced last year at age 4, Drippindiamonds was entered as a broodmare prospect in last year's November sale at Keeneland, where James bought her back in full for $52,000. Now James is training her, too. Rafael Bejarano rides.

* Sunday's card includes four other allowances. Home Court, a daughter of Storm Cat who won at Saratoga last year in her only start, heads the six-furlong eighth race, an entry-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies. She was scratched from an allowance Friday.