07/11/2004 11:00PM

Rivelli tries to stay hot

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CHICAGO - The trainer Larry Rivelli won five races last week at Arlington Park, and seven of the last 10 horses he has started here have finished first, two others second. It is his best stretch ever at Arlington, but even the hot streak could not get Nicole's Dream home in Sunday's overnight handicap feature. An ace turf sprinter, Nicole's Dream was beaten at her own game by a Kentucky shipper named Dyna Da Wyna.

"That's a nice horse," Rivelli said Monday morning. "The way I looked at it, Nicole got beat by a better horse."

But when you are going good, why wrestle the past? Asked about an Illinois-bred named Western Mindy, Rivelli said, "I've got her in tomorrow." Quickly, he realized his mistake. "Tomorrow" was Tuesday, a dark day, and Rivelli meant Wednesday. What his slip meant was clear: Bring on the new week.

is one of nine horses entered in the Wednesday feature, a second-level allowance for Illinois-breds at 5 1/2 furlongs. Western Mindy returns to action 18 days after a tough-trip seventh in the Purple Violet Handicap in the Prairie State Festival.

"She fell on her head coming out of the gate," said Rivelli.

Wednesday, Western Mindy turns back from a one-turn mile to a more suitable distance, and Rivelli expects improvement.

"She's not really a miler, but when you have an Illinois-bred, that's what those [stakes] races are there for," he said.

Western Mindy, however, lands in a competitive race. To her inside and on the rail is Alex's Hot Fudge, another Purple Violet also-ran, who missed by a head in her last try at this class level. Both these inside-drawn horses want to race close to the lead, as does Charming Bid, who has the outside post. A fast, contested pace, and the race could fall to someone like Gowithfate, a long-layoff horse with solid credentials, or Natural Image, who also turns back from a one-mile race.

"The last time she breezed, [Larry] Sterling said that was the best she'd worked in a long time," said Tony Mitchell, Natural Image's trainer.

As for Rivelli, he believes Nicole's Dream wasn't at her best racing on wet turf Sunday, and that she will run better on a harder course. Earlier in the day, he had sent the promising 2-year-old Raving Rocket out to train for the first time since giving the colt a 45-day layoff to get over a sore shin. Rivelli hopes to have Raving Rocket, an easy winner of his lone start, ready for a minor stakes race here on Aug. 1.