07/08/2004 11:00PM

Shipper to test 'Nicole'


CHICAGO - When the Dare to Dream Stable bought Nicole's Dream about a year ago and turned her over to the trainer Larry Rivelli, they could not have fully realized exactly what they had. Nicole's Dream had been based at Tampa Bay Downs and Great Lakes Downs with the trainer Odin Londono, and shown some zip winning short sprint races on turf and dirt.

But Nicole's Dream has evolved into more than a useful filly: She is perhaps the best female turf sprinter in the central part of the country. Racing five furlongs on turf, Nicole's Dream has eight wins and a second in 11 starts, and at Arlington she has won all four starts at the trip. Nicole's Dream will try for her fifth in Sunday's featured eighth race, a $38,000 overnight handicap, but two things keep her from being a slam dunk. The first is wet weather, since a switch to dirt takes Nicole's Dream out of her best game. The other is a Kentucky shipper named Dyna Da Wyna, who may be as fast at five furlongs on grass as Nicole's Dream.

Nicole's Dream and Dyna Da Wyna are the two obvious horses Sunday, but the shape of the race depends on a third. Pass the Pepper, who has never raced on turf, has the speed to make Nicole's Dream work for her usual position on the lead. If she works too hard, Dyna Da Wyna might come and get her in the stretch.

Dharma Girl, Wavy, and Rocket Royale are the other three in the race, all as longshots. Dharma Girl comes off an upset win in the Isaac Murphy for Illinois-breds, but she has never tried turf, and might have been entered in hopes of a move to the main track.

Dyna Da Wyna does not race often or particularly well on dirt, and though she has a stakes win around two turns on grass, she seems sharpest as a late-running grass sprinter. Dyna Da Wyna, trained by Elliott Walden, was fifth in a paceless route stakes race on June 5 at Woodbine, but in her previous start, she beat 11 rivals in the Stravinsky at Keeneland. That gave Dyna Da Wyna two wins in two turf sprints, and gave those watching her the idea that her best race comes around one turn.

But Dyna Da Wyna's stretch kick could prove to be too little, too late. Nicole's Dream scoots around sharp turns like a machine. She carries her excellent early speed to the wire at these abbreviated distances, and she is tough to run down.