07/31/2002 11:00PM

Turf a question for 'Rhythm'

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Hal Wiggins admits Saturday's $50,000 Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park is an experiment to see if Lotta Rhythm, a 3-year-old filly he trains, can transfer her stakes-winning dirt form to turf.

Working in her favor is that many of her opponents also are experimenting. Some are being tested for class, with hikes from allowance races, and others are trying grass for the first time.

Lotta Rhythm, a daughter of Rhythm owned by Dolphus Morrison, has raced on turf. Last month at Churchill Downs she finished third in an four-other-than allowance, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by older stakes winner Four Plus Four.

That result was inconclusive regarding her proficiency on grass. There were just five horses in the field, and one runner, a 21-1 longshot, was never involved through the stretch.

"We wanted to give her a try to see if she would like the grass," said Wiggins. "You never know if they will take to it. We're hoping she will turn out liking it, and that will give us another option with her."

The Audubon Oaks, which comes at Lotta Rhythm's best distance of a mile, should clarify where she fits on grass.

Lotta Rhythm, winner of the Pocahontas Stakes last fall at Churchill Downs, breaks from post 1 with Calvin Borel aboard.

If Lotta Rhythm does not take to the Ellis Park turf, the Audubon Oaks becomes wide open. Two of the more interesting runners include Never Out and Maybe Lin, who form a Bobby Barnett-trained entry.

Never Out, a daughter of Take Me Out, was one of the top 2-year-old fillies in Kentucky last year. She won her first two starts before finishing second to Take Charge Lady in the Grade 2 Alcibiades at Keeneland.

This year her form has been spotty, and the move to the grass for the first time adds further uncertainty regarding her form. Willie Martinez rides.

Her entrymate, Maybe Lin, has a pedigree that suggests a future on turf. A daughter of Fly So Free, she is a half-sister to Maybe Jack, a stakes winner on grass.

Maybe Lin won her first start, at Churchill Downs, and was third in an entry-level allowance there in her only other race. Both were dirt sprints. Tony D'Amico has the mount.

The nine-horse field is completed by Join, Dixie Schic, Sophorific, Wild Kandace, Cat's Glow, and Emeraldforajudge.