06/29/2001 12:00AM

Sick as a Parrot no longer a loser


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - European import Sick as a Parrot will be looking to remain unbeaten on this side of the pond when he takes on seven other older runners in Sunday's $166,800 Dominion Day Handicap at Woodbine.

Trainer Michael Dickinson gained worldwide attention during the 1990's by winning the Breeders' Cup Mile twice with the delicate gelding, Da Hoss. He has weaved more of his magic with Sick as a Parrot, who lost 17 consecutive races through the end of 1999 in England, before owner Nigel Shields sent him to Dickinson's Maryland training center.

"He wasn't right when I got him," Dickinson recalled. "We felt he needed a break, so I turned him out for six months."

Sick as a Parrot returned from an 18-month layoff in the 1 1/8-mile Norristown Handicap at Philadelphia Park on May 28. Sent off at 9-2, he pressed the early pace over a muddy track before cruising to a 1 1/2-length win, earning a 103 Beyer in the process.

"It was absolutely warming to the heart watching him run that day," Dickinson said. "I was very proud of him and I was very happy for him, because he didn't look like a horse who'd lost 17 in a row. He was always going well, and enjoyed every moment of it. It was a very satisfying moment for me. He's a very kind horse, and I love him dearly."

Dickinson said he chose the Dominion Day for Sick as a Parrot because of its grade and distance. "I think he's a Grade 3 horse going 1 1/4 miles on the dirt," he said.

James McKnight, victorious aboard Mr. Epperson in last Sunday's Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap, has the mount.

Completing the field are U.S. invaders Tarquinius and Ground Storm, along with Parose, Lil Personalitee, Seek Smartly, Sir Frederick, and A Fleets Dancer.

A Fleets Dancer mounted an eye-catching wide rally to take the allowance prep for the Dominion Day going away. Trainer Roger Attfield believes A Fleets Dancer will be a factor on Sunday if he puts out.

"The whole thing is whether he's in the mood to run," said Attfield. "If he's in the mood, he'll take some beating."

Ground Storm has been absent since ending well up the track in the Grade 3 Excelsior Handicap at Aqueduct on April 28. He earned a 106 Beyer for winning his penultimate outing in allowance company for trainer Bill Mott.

Tarquinius, a Joe Orseno-trained Stronach Stable runner, has been fourth in each of his last two starts in New York allowance company.