08/10/2006 11:00PM

Sea Siren the controlling speed


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Ralph Nicks has been in Saratoga for the past few weeks, and early Friday he still had not seen the past performances for the Mariah's Storm, the featured eighth race Sunday at Arlington Park. Nicks is scheduled to run Sea Siren, who just raced last weekend at Ellis Park, in the $40,000 race for older fillies and mares.

"Is there a ton of speed in there against us?" he asked. "Because if there is, I might not want to run her back so quick."

To the contrary, in fact. Sea Siren might well be the lone speed, and the dominant speed, in the 1 1/8-mile Mariah's Storm, which drew a field of six.

Nicks was disappointed in the way Sea Siren ran Aug. 5 in the Grade 3 Gardenia Handicap, and understandably so. Sea Siren, entered off a 6 1/2-length romp in her previous start, a Churchill Downs allowance in which she earned a lifetime-high Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

She "laid up in good position for the first half-mile, and after that didn't want to have anything to do with it," said Nicks of Sea Siren's Gardenia effort.

Sea Siren wound up last of 10, beaten 14 lengths by the victorious Prospective Saint.

Things could unfold much differently Sunday, however, when Sea Siren, stretching out from a mile to two turns, figures to dictate the running.

"It's becoming pretty obvious that she's better at two turns than a flat mile," said Nicks, the former longtime assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. "That last race didn't hurt her any, and if she can shake loose in this spot, she could be real dangerous."

Besides Sea Siren, who will be ridden by Robby Albarado, other contenders include the uncoupled Christine Janks-trained duo of Sunset Kisses and Modjadji. Both horses will be looking to rebound off failed efforts in tougher grass stakes.

Sunset Kisses will be ridden by Larry Sterling Jr., while Francisco Torres has the mount on Modjadji.

Sara's Tune, Capistrano, and Platinum Ballet complete the field.

Mariah's Storm, a multiple graded stakes winner whose racing career included an upset of the great Serena's Song in the 1995 Turfway Breeders' Cup, eventually went on to far greater fame as the dam of the highly successful sire Giant's Causeway, as well as serving as the inspiration for the major motion picture "Dreamer."