Updated on 09/16/2011 8:44AM

Traveling win machine runs here


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Have grass, will travel. Bien Nicole, a 4-year-old filly who has won five straight races over five different turf courses, will try to extend that streak to six when she races Saturday at Churchill Downs in the $150,000 .

The Cardinal, a Grade 3 turf race at 1 1/8 miles, drew a quality field that also includes accomplished mares such as Lapuma and Quick Tip, but if the dominant trend holds, all will be hard pressed to keep Bien Nicole from keeping her remarkable streak intact for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel.

"Every time we've asked this filly to run a better race, she's done it," said Von Hemel.

Bien Nicole began her streak July 5 at Lone Star, where she won an allowance race. She then won stakes at Retama, Louisiana Downs, and Remington, then strutted her stuff on Breeders' Cup weekend at Arlington Park, winning the Oct. 25 Estrapade Handicap by three lengths.

A homebred Bien Bien filly owned by Kristine and John Richter of Perkins, Okla., Bien Nicole will carry high weight of 118 pounds, spotting her 10 rivals three to six pounds. Von Hemel will be in from Oklahoma to give a leg up to regular rider Don Pettinger.

Lapuma, a winner of her last two starts, is one of the main threats, having won two stakes coming into the Cardinal.

A 5-year-old Lord at War mare, Lapuma won the Twixtslusive at Delaware in September, then the Dowager at Keeneland last month. She is owned by Highclere Stables and trained by Alton Quanbeck.

Quick Tip comes off an especially sharp victory at Keeneland and also figures as a serious challenger. Trained by Neil Howard, the 4-year-old Unaccounted For filly has earned nearly $350,000 during a career of admirable consistency.

Other contenders include Five Fishes, who has attracted Pat Day off a sharp runner-up finish in a recent local prep; Byzantine, a Canadian invader to be ridden by Shane Sellers; and San Dare, a former claimer who has hit peak form for trainer Rick Hiles.

The rest of the Cardinal field is Verruma, Town Queen, Lady of the Future, Lady Linda, and Kiss the Devil.

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