04/30/2002 11:00PM

American Turf: Stage Call big threat


Orchard Park will bring a four-race win streak into the $100,000 Crown Royal American Turf Stakes although trainer Elliott Walden thinks his Stage Call may be the horse to beat in the Grade 3 race for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

Stage Call finished a wide-running fourth as the 7-5 favorite making his 3-year-old debut in Keeneland's Transylvania Stakes on April 5, a race Walden believes is much better than it appears on paper.

"At first I was disappointed with his effort in the Transylvania," said Walden. "But the race wound up grading out very fast. He also raced extremely wide while making his first start back since winning the Hopemont last fall."

Stage Call rallied from last place to an 11-length win in the Hopemont in his U.S. debut and first start under Walden's tutelage.

"The way he won the Hopemont led me to believe he had a chance to become one of the best of his generation on the turf and I think he'll bounce back real big on Friday," said Walden.

Stage Call will have to bounce back very big if he's going to upset Orchard Park, who has won his last four starts, including a pair of stakes at Gulfstream Park. A son of Hennessy trained by Bill Mott, Orchard Park has gone relatively unchallenged during his current win streak but figures to face his sternest test in the American Turf.

A field of 10 was entered for the 1 1/16-mile American Turf. In addition to Stage Call and Orchard Park the group consists of National Park, Legislator, Mystic Salse, Worldly Victor, Celtic Hope, No More Chads, Classic Case, and Red Masque.

Red Masque, winner of Keeneland's Forerunner; Classic Case, victorious in the Bud Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs; and National Park, winner of Lone Star's Grand Prairie, come into the American Turf off stakes victories.