Updated on 09/16/2011 8:49AM

Apple's big figs don't intimidate his foes


HOUSTON - His last six Beyer Speed Figures are imposing indeed: 110, 107, 109, 107, 108, and 108. But partly because Forbidden Apple did not win any of those six races, the opposition has not shied from him for the Great State Challenge Turf at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday.

Forbidden Apple, a 7-year-old Florida-bred trained by Christophe Clement, is precisely the type of horse that Great State organizers hoped to lure to Texas: classy, accomplished, and from a highly acclaimed stable. Much to the delight of those same organizers, a representative cast of challengers - one that conceivably could upset him - is in Houston to run against Forbidden Apple, who has earned nearly $1.6 million while competing almost exclusively in graded stakes company.

Foremost among those rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Turf is Devine Wind, who in recent starts has faced some of the better middle-distance turf runners on the Southern California circuit. A Kentucky-bred owned by Richard Englander and trained by Nick Canani, Devine Wind has been in particularly sharp form lately, posting Beyers of 98 or higher in each of his last seven starts.

La Reine's Terms and Mystery Giver are two others capable of registering minor upsets with top efforts.

La Reine's Terms has been a standout this year for trainer Larry Murray, winning four straight races after making a belated return to action in June. A Maryland-bred son of Private Terms, he typically makes a sustained run from midpack to put himself squarely into contention.

Murray's assistant, Steve Pettit, said Thursday that La Reine's Term has settled in nicely at Sam Houston and that he expects the horse to run exceedingly well.

Mystery Giver, an Illinois-bred owned by Team Block, is less consistent than some of the other Turf runners but is nevertheless capable with his best. A grass-loving son of Dynaformer, Mystery Giver has won four stakes within the last 14 months.

Whata Brainstorm probably is the unknown of the group. Trained in New York by Jim Picou, the horse has raced just twice since March 2001, most recently finishing eighth in an Aqueduct allowance that he figured to badly need. His career bankroll of nearly $600,000 seems enough to warn of a sudden turnaround.

Adminniestrator already has been scratched, leaving a field of nine. Post positions will change but official wagering numbers will not.