06/19/2007 11:00PM

Nola Star aims to end streak


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After winning her second career start by 16 lengths, it seemed the sky was the limit for a filly named Nola Star. But more than 10 months after that easy triumph, the filly has gone winless in six subsequent starts, although her trainer, Ken McPeek, believes an end to the losing streak could be imminent.

Nola Star was beaten by just a half-length in her last race, a June 3 turf route contested under the same first-level allowance conditions that govern the Friday feature at Churchill Downs. McPeek thinks Nola Star is finally showing the maturity and consistency to fulfill her considerable potential, and, of greater interest to horseplayers, he thinks those positive traits could manifest themselves in a victory Friday.

Nola Star, with Rafael Bejarano to ride, drew the outside post among a field of nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the ninth of 11 races, a $50,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf. First post for the twilight program is 2:45 p.m. Eastern.

McPeek said Nola Star is "a very, very fast filly. She can flat run. The problem she's had is that she's wanted to show too much speed, and that ends up hurting her. But running on the grass has helped her relax, and I'm thrilled she drew the outside. She can get out of there and just go with the flow, nice and easy."

Nola Star is owned by Alliance Racing, a partnership headed by Chicago insurance adjusters Bruce Frazier and Bill Hughes. The men spent months in New Orleans while heavily involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and thus the name "Nola," a commonly used acronym derived from New Orleans, La.

Nola Star, by Three Wonders, is one of a handful of logical contenders in the Friday feature, with the others being Dress Uniform, Grace Happens, Classic Tiara, and Block.

Dress Uniform is a Will Farish homebred who appears to have the makings of a useful turf runner, having finished no worse than third in all four career starts. Grace Happens has been overmatched recently when competing in such major events as the Ashland Stakes and Kentucky Oaks, so a return to this lower class level should be much appreciated. Classic Tiara won two of her last three, albeit in claiming company, while Block exits a three-length maiden victory over the Churchill turf course.

The balance of the field is C B T Snakeye, Makepeace, Bobby's Babe, and Lady Carlock.