03/07/2008 12:00AM

Alina joins cast of Fantasy prospects


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The 3-year-old filly division at Oaklawn that includes the undefeated Grade 2 winner Pure Clan and 13 1/2-length Martha Washington Stakes winner Eight Belles keeps getting stronger.

Alina, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 last weekend when she won the $75,000 Green Oaks at Delta Downs, is being pointed to the Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy here on April 6.

"I'm going to train her up to the Fantasy," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Alina for Philip and Brenda Robertson. "It's good timing, good spacing between her races. I've discussed it with Mr. Robertson, and we think she deserves the chance off that 18 3/4-length win."

In the Green Oaks, Alina sat off pacesetter and multiple stakes winner Miss Missile for a half-mile, then opened up on the field. She covered the mile in 1:39.40, which was more than two seconds quicker than the 1:41.84 that 3-year-old colts ran two races earlier on the card in the $75,000 Sportsman's Paradise.

Alina and Eight Belles are the lone 3-year-old fillies to have put up a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure so far this year. Eight Belles earned a 100 for an allowance win at Fair Grounds in January. One start later, she earned a Beyer of 96 for her win in the $50,000 Martha Washington here Feb. 17.

Pure Clan, winner of the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs in November, is scheduled to make her season debut here next Sunday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Honeybee. Eight Belles remains on pace for the same race.

Salomea, who was third to Palanka City in a six-furlong allowance on March 2 that went in a quick 1:09.80, will also go in the Honeybee, said her trainer, David Cross. Cross hopes to make the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks on June 8 with Salomea.

Van Berg to be a regular in region

Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg is back at Oaklawn with a division of horses for the first time since 1992, and his presence here represents a transition for his stable. Van Berg has 24 horses on the grounds, and said he is now in the midst of moving a good portion of his barn into this region. Van Berg plans to race later this year at Louisiana Downs, which he did last year, and also mentioned racing at other tracks in Louisiana, as well as Lone Star Park near Dallas and Remington Park in Oklahoma City. He said he will continue to have a division at his longtime base of Southern California.

"We're planning on setting up back here," said Van Berg, who won Oaklawn training titles in 1983 and 1984. "My nephew's back here. My sister's back here, and I sold my place in California. I like it back here. It's a little more quiet.

"We're going to set up and get rolling back here. I've got a few new ideas we want to do."

Van Berg said a big appeal of this region is that the tracks feature conventional dirt surfaces. It is now mandated that major tracks in California have synthetic surfaces. Van Berg won the Kentucky Derby in 1987 with Alysheba, who went on to be Horse of the Year in 1988.

Denis of Cork among Rebel probables

Trainer David Carroll on Friday morning called Denis of Cork a "strong possibility" for the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel for 3-year-olds here next Saturday. The undefeated Denis of Cork won the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest at Oaklawn in his last start Feb. 18, and has since worked at Fair Grounds.

"We'll know more this weekend," said Carroll, who trains Denis of Cork.

Z Fortune shipped to Oaklawn on Tuesday for the Rebel, said his trainer, Steve Asmussen. The horse last raced at Fair Grounds, and finished second in the Grade 3 Risen Star.

Sierra Sunset, the Southwest runner-up who worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.20 seconds here Feb. 29, is considered probable for the Rebel by Oaklawn stakes coordinator Craig Lytel, along with Face the Cat, Sacred Journey, He's Eze, Isabull, and Stone Bird.

Golden Yank, a two-time route stakes winner who in his last start was third in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot, is possible for the Rebel. Trainer Gary Thomas said a decision will be made in the next few days. Golden Yank worked a mile in 1:43.20 here Thursday.

"He worked good, but he got a little tired," said Thomas. "He's still a little behind."

Golden Yank was freshened after the Jackpot, which was run Dec. 7 at Delta.

Sebastian County, who breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.40 here Wednesday, is possible for the Rebel, said his trainer, Don Von Hemel. Grade 2 winner Anak Nakal is also under consideration for the race.