03/25/2008 11:00PM

Tricky Etbauer focused for stakes

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Steve Wren likes the transition Tricky Etbauer has made from 2 to 3. Friday, she will attempt to begin her season with a stakes win when she starts as a top contender in the $50,000 Rainbow Miss at Oaklawn Park.

The six-furlong race is for 3-year-old fillies bred in Arkansas. It drew a field of seven, and favoritism could go to Gone Dixie, who in her last start won a conditioned claimer by 10 1/4 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 75. The number is the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure in the Rainbow Miss.

Tricky Etbauer has the field's best stakes credentials. She made her stakes debut in her last start, on Oct. 6, and finished a troubled second in the $45,000 Lady Razorback Futurity at Louisiana Downs. Following the race, the winner was disqualified and Tricky Etbauer was placed first. For her first start at 3, Tricky Etbauer shows a strong series of works at Oaklawn, her latest a bullet three furlongs in 35.40 seconds on March 25.

"She's a much better filly mind-wise," Wren, who trains Tricky Etbauer for her breeder, Kaaren Biggs, said of the horse's transition from 2 to 3. "She's matured. She's grown in physical stature, but what's changed the most is her mind-set."

Wren trained both sides of Tricky Etbauer's family. Her sire, Etbauer, won the Grade 3 Rebel at Oaklawn. And her dam's brother, Tiger Six, accounted for the 1999 running of the Rainbow at Oaklawn. Wren said he feels good about Tricky Etbauer's fitness for her first start back. She will add blinkers and will break from post 2 under Cliff Berry.

"She'll be up toward the front," Wren said.

Gone Dixie was much the best in a conditioned claimer for Arkansas-breds on Marcho14, when she defeated older horses in a six-furlong race that went in a solid 1:11.80. Last year, she was fourth in the Lady Razorback, but was placed third as a result of the disqualification. Gone Dixie has won two races in her career, which gives her an experience edge on all of her rivals Saturday. Terry Thompson has the mount for trainer Dwaine Loy.

My Dakota, who was a stalking, 7 1/4-length debut winner at Oaklawn on March 9, gets the outside post in the Rainbow Miss. The draw could give her rider, Tim Doocy, options with a good amount of speed situated to her inside. My Dakota is trained by Steve Hobby.