07/17/2008 12:00AM

Ride Em Cowgirl a surprising on turf

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Tom Amoss just finished off a memorable Churchill Downs meet, capturing the training title by sending out 35 winners from a mere 87 starters. Now, it is on to the rest of the summer, which means more Amoss-trained starters at Arlington Park. Already, Amoss has racked up seven wins at the meet, one of which came with Ride Em Cowgirl, one of the main contenders here Saturday in the $50,000 Nicole's Dream Stakes.

The Nicole's Dream is named for the Chicago-based crack turf sprinter who retired a couple of years ago, and while there does not appear to be a horse of her caliber in the five-furlong turf race, the Saturday feature lured a full field of 12, with two more horses stuck on the also-eligible list.

For main contenders, however, look to the inside posts, especially gate number 2, from which Ride Em Cowgirl will break. Ride Em Cowgirl is by Mazel Trick and out of a mare by the little-known sire Collier - by no means an obvious grass pedigree. So, it was something of a revelation when she made her turf debut here May 31 in a third-level allowance race and won by more than two lengths.

"We tried her on he grass because we were out of spots," Amoss said. "We said, 'What the heck, let's give it a shot.' "

Ride Em Cowgirl had won a $100,000 synthetic-track stakes at Presque Isle Downs in her previous start, but the turf win expanded her horizons. Amoss sent her to Colonial Downs for the Buckland Stakes on June 21, and Ride Em Cowgirl finished second to Smart and Fancy, probably the leading female turf sprinter on the East Coast.

Amoss gave Ride Em Cowgirl a month between races to make sure she had recovered from her shipping experience, and Ride Em Cowgirl has posted two recent works at Arlington for the Nicole's Dream.

"I think she's coming into this race well," said Amoss.

Breaking just outside Ride Em Cowgirl is Bucky's Prayer, who is in from Thistledown for trainer Gerald Bennett, but fits the spot as well as any horse in the race. Bucky's Prayer hasn't started since she won a $100,000 Presque Isle stakes race on May 31, but has compiled a 4-4-1 record from 12 turf sprints.

On the rail is Secret Kin, making her turf debut for trainer Chris Block. An Illinois-bred stakes winner, Secret Kin has the quick turn of foot often found in successful grass horses. She breezed a half-mile on turf here July 9, a work that wasn't spectacular, but good enough to earn her a berth here.