02/04/2004 12:00AM

Tiger Hunt has first breeze on way to Rebel


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Tiger Hunt, one of the top 3-year-olds at Oaklawn, on Wednesday had his first work since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He breezed three furlongs in 39.60 seconds.

"It was a nice, easy three-eighths," said Ralph Nicks, who trains Tiger Hunt for Team Valor. "It was what we were looking for first work back.

"He looked nice and relaxed and finished up the last eighth in 12 and change."

Shannon Zuber, assistant trainer to Nicks, was aboard for the workout, which came shortly after the renovation break.

Tiger Hunt was given a vacation after the Breeders' Cup, and he is being pointed for three stakes this spring: the $200,000 Rebel at Oaklawn on March 20, the $1 million Arkansas Derby here on April 10, and the Kentucky Derby. If he were to win all three races, he would earn a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn.

Tiger Hunt has won 2 of 4 starts, including the $200,000 Cradle at River Downs. He ran second to Eurosilver in the Grade 2 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity.

Elliott Walden trained Tiger Hunt last year, but this year he is being trained by Nicks, who was named private trainer for Team Valor in November.

Shadowland, a British import who also races for Team Valor and is now based at Oaklawn with Nicks, breezed a half-mile in 50 seconds on Tuesday. In his last start, he finished second to Fire Slam in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds.

"I thought it was a big race," said Nicks. "There was no pace in front of him and he ran gamely. It was a good race for his second start in this country. It was a big step."

Shadowland, who has won 2 of 3 starts, is being pointed for the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at one mile at Oaklawn on Feb. 28.

Bien Nicole to Storm Cat stallion

Bien Nicole, who earned more than $1 million before being retired last year, will be bred to the young Storm Cat stallion Bernstein, said John Richter, who owns Bien Nicole with his wife, Kristine.

Bien Nicole, 6, was retired after she sustained a condylar fracture in a hind leg while finishing second to Riskaverse in the Cardinal at Churchill Downs in November.

Bien Nicole's biggest career victory came last fall when she rolled to a 7 1/4-length win in the Grade 2, $500,000 WinStar Galaxy. She then ran in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, finishing ninth. She also is a graded winner on dirt, having captured last year's Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup.

Bien Nicole, who was trained by Donnie Von Hemel, won 12 of 26 career starts. She is now based at a Perkins, Okla., farm owned by the Richters, and will ship to Buck Pond Farm in Kentucky to be bred to Bernstein.

Bernstein won 4 of 8 starts, including two Group 3 races in Ireland. His first foals will begin racing in 2004.

John Richter said he and his wife plan to race the resulting foal from Bien Nicole.

Speed vs. recency in feature

The featured ninth race, an entry-level allowance for 4-year-olds and upward at six furlongs, looks to be a matchup between Far Away Bell, who in her last start earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for a wire-to-wire win in October, and Boundary Stone, who last raced Jan. 23.

Boundary Stone finished a game second to the stakes-placed Taxicat in an entry-level allowance race at Oaklawn. The race was his first start since he won his maiden at Louisiana Downs in November. Don Pettinger has the mount for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Far Away Bell, who breaks from the rail, won a $25,000 conditioned claimer by 8 1/4 lengths in his last start. Jamie Theriot has the return call for trainer Cole Norman.

Others of note in the field include Bohunk, a stakes-placed colt who will be making his first start since July, and Rappel, an impressive debut winner last year at Oaklawn who has not raced since April.

* Larry Reasor, a longtime owner from Oklahoma who raced horses with Oaklawn-based trainer Terrance Dunlavy for 25 years, died Monday. He was 68. One of Reasor's best horses was Lt. Whitesburg.