07/14/2005 11:00PM

Tamara's figs stand out


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Owner-trainer Nick Nosowenko said he thinks he will be saddling the favorite in Sunday's $100,000 Ernie Samuel Stakes, a supporting feature to Fort Erie's signature race, the $500,000 Prince of Wales.

And rightfully so. His 5-year-old mare Tamara has earned Beyer Speed Figures of 91 and 94 in her last two outings, both on turf. None of the other five runners in the Ernie Samuel, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for Canadian-bred fillies and mares, has ever surpassed 91.

Tamara's 94 was earned in her dead heat with La Trillium at Woodbine on June 11. On July 4, in the $100,000 Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial against males here, she got a 91 while finishing second to Le Cinquieme Essai - one of Canada's top grass runners.

Nosowenko said he believes Tamara will do well despite returning to action in just 13 days.

"She has been eating good, and she has been showing the signs that she has a good one in her," said Nosowenko. "We're taking a shot to see if we can make her a stakes winner."

Nosowenko, who owns horses along with his father, Mike, obtained a trainer's license last year and saddled just two horses. One of them was Supertramp, a horse he owns and took to Churchill Downs, where he won a conditioned claiming race.

"I waited till this year to take over my stable," said Nosowenko, 42, who had been in the restaurant business for 20 years. "We were getting too big. Between my father and me, we had about 25 horses. Nobody would take all our horses. Too many horses were on farms and training centers."

Nosowenko is just 1 for 17 this year, but has five seconds.

"We have been awfully close in some," he said. "But the last jump seems to get us."

Nosowenko considers Miss Filibuster, trained by Paul Nielsen, and Spanish Decree, trained by Frank Huarte, as his main opponents on Sunday.

Miss Filibuster, 5, is a half-sister to Le Cinquieme Essai, who won the 2002 Prince of Wales on his march toward Canada's champion 3-year-old title. Miss Filibuster, a winner of 3 of her 11 lifetime starts, will be making her first start of 2005.

"None of the races I entered her in at Woodbine went," said Nielsen. "She's fit enough to run. She had a pretty good breeze last Friday on the grass, in 1:01 and 1, and galloped out very, very well. I was happy about it."

Because Miss Filibuster is a nervous type, Nielsen shipped her here on Tuesday.

"I don't like to ship her the day of a race," he said.

Meanwhile, Nosowenko worries about Spanish Decree. "I've never been able to beat her," he said.

Twice last year, Spanish Decree finished ahead of Tamara.