02/21/2004 12:00AM

Vous can keep Hills rolling


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The big sigh of relief you may have heard emanating from Gulfstream Park last week came from trainer Timmy Hills. After enduring a "humbling" 1-for-41 start to the meet, Hills has won with three of his last five starters.

Hills, who won two races Wednesday and one more Saturday, hopes that portends better things for the second half of the meet. Hills hopes to keep the momemtum rolling into next Saturday, when he sends out Vous in the Grade 3, $100,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Vous is one of three stakes winners among the 25 3-year-old fillies nominated to the Herecomesthebride, run at nine furlongs on turf. Vous won the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes at Calder in November. In her 3-year-old debut here Feb. 9, Vous was beaten a head by Last Waltz in a second-level turf allowance race.

As a daughter of Wild Rush out of a mare who went winless on turf, Vous wasn't necessarily cut out to be a turf horse. But after finishing 10th of 12 in her debut on dirt last September at Belmont Park, jockey Mike Luzzi suggested to Hills that Vous should try the turf.

Hills put Vous on turf for her second start, and she was beaten a head in a race in which Hills said Vous ran a bit greenly. Vous came back to win her maiden in the slop before taking the Hollywood Wildcat.

"Both times she got beat on the turf, she had traffic problems and was green racing between horses," Hills said. "In her last race, halfway around the turn she was in between horses and got spooked by it. She's learning from race to race."

Hills said he wouldn't mind if the Herecomesthebride gets transferred to dirt "because I'd really like to try her again on dirt."

As far as his meet is concerned, Hills admitted to being frustrated by his long losing streak and was relieved to get those three wins last week. Through Saturday, he is 4 for 46.

"It's like golf sometimes; it's very humbling," Hills said. "The first part of the meet, I brought the wrong horses, inexperienced maidens or horses near the end of their careers. I'd guess the average odds were 25 to 1 or 30 to 1, so it wasn't like they were expected to win. I must have sent 15 horses to the farm in the last month because they couldn't compete."

Eddington works; Hennig waits

Eddington, who stamped himself as a 3-year-old with a future when he scored an impressive maiden win here Feb. 7, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 Saturday at Gulfstream. Eddington, a son of Unbridled, won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race Feb. 7 by 4 3/4 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97. It was his first start with blinkers, and he worked in blinkers Saturday.

"He worked really well, and he came home real strong," said trainer Mark Hennig. "I worked him in blinkers because I wanted to make sure I got a useful work into him."

Hennig has not chosen a spot for Eddington's next start. He said there is a "slight chance" he could take Eddington to the Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby on March 7, but he would prefer to run in an allowance race.

Hennig also worked two of his other stakes horses Saturday. Eye Dazzler, beaten a head in the Davona Dale, went four furlongs in 49.40 seconds in preparation for the Bonnie Miss on March 6. Gygistar, who finished fourth in the Deputy Minister Handicap here Feb. 7, worked five furlongs in 1:00 in preparation for the $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap on March 6.

Hennig explained why he ran Gygistar in the Deputy Minister, even though he suggested he would scratch after Gygistar drew the rail.

"There was rain in the forecast all day long, and it never did rain," Hennig said. "He obviously likes the mud, and Cajun Beat made one start in it and was beaten 28 lengths. We thought we'd get some rain, and [by scratch time] we decided we'd just take a shot."

Hennig said he will not run Gygistar in the Richter Scale if Gygistar draws the rail.

Puzzlement eyes Skip Away

Puzzlement, the Hal's Hope Handicap winner who finished fourth in the Donn, could make his next start in the $100,000 Skip Away Handicap on March 13, trainer Allen Jerkens said. On Saturday, Puzzlement worked an easy seven furlongs in 1:33.60 over Gulfstream's main track.

Jerkens said Bowman's Band, who finished last after having to check hard in the Donn, would not make the Skip Away. While Bowman's Band came out of that checking incident in good order, Bowman's Band contracted a fever last week and missed several days of training.

* Strong Hope, who has not run since beating Empire Maker in last year's Jim Dandy, worked five furlongs in 1:03.40 at Palm Meadows on Saturday. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he is not sure when Strong Hope will make his 4-year-old debut.

"He's not quite ready yet, but he's coming along well," Pletcher said.