07/14/2005 11:00PM

Be a Halo taking steps to become a router

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Emerald Downs
Aunt Sophie, the top older filly or mare of last year's meet at Emerald, has been retired at age 7.

AUBURN, Wash. - Be a Halo registered his first official workout since arriving from Arlington Park on Tuesday, going five furlongs in a minute under exercise rider Bryson Cooper.

"He did just fine," said Kay Cooper, assistant to trainer Jim Penney. "We're trying to teach him to relax and rate so that he will stretch out. We've still got more work to do, but Bryson said he was more manageable than we thought he'd be. It was a good first step in the process."

Kay Cooper, Penney, and owner Paul Heist hope Be a Halo, a 3-year-old son of Halo's Image, will develop into another Flamethrowintexan. Heist claimed Flamethrowintexan in June 2004 for $62,500 at Hollywood Park, and Cooper and Penney developed him into the top 3-year-old on the grounds. A pure sprinter before he arrived in the Penney barn, Flamethrowintexan won the Seattle Slew Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, ran second to My Creed in the Emerald Derby at 1 1/8 miles, won the B.C. Derby at 1 1/8 miles, and concluded his 3-year-old campaign with a third, beaten just a length by Pollard's Vision, in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby at 1 1/16 miles.

Be a Halo, who was claimed for $50,000 at Arlington on June 18, will likely launch his Emerald campaign in the Seattle Slew on Aug. 7. As a requirement of the claim, Be a Halo is allowed to run only in stakes at Emerald until the Arlington meeting ends, which is on Sept. 18.

"We have high hopes for him, though," said Cooper. "He acts like a very talented horse."

Be a Halo has compiled a record of 2 wins, 5 seconds, and 2 thirds from 10 starts in the Midwest. He collected his maiden win over special weight company by more than 12 lengths in March at Hawthorne, and he has since notched a second against $35,000 optional claimers, a win over $30,000 claimers, and a second against $50,000 optional claimers on the day he was claimed. All of his races to date have been at six furlongs.

Penney plots course for his four stars

Cooper said the Penney barn's quartet of handicap stars - Flamethrowintexan, Sabertooth, Salt Grinder, and Diamond View - will all be nominated to either the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap or the 1 1/8-mile Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap, or both, on Longacres Mile Preview Day, July 31.

The Longacres Mile will be run Aug. 21.

"We might just nominate Diamond View for the Governor's, though we have always wanted to stretch him out eventually," said Cooper. "The others we'll probably nominate for both races and let them tell us which race to run them in. Salt Grinder is a B.C.-bred, and there is a race for him at Hastings Park, so there is another option for him. The main thing is that we get a race into each of them before the Longacres Mile, then we'll see where we stand for the Mile itself."

Cooper said another of their stakes runners, Turban, is no longer pointing toward the Longacres Mile. Turban, a double stakes winner here in 2003, missed all of last year with an injury and finished seventh behind Sabertooth in the FSN Handicap in his only start at the meeting.

"He's training well, but we're going to drop him down in class," said Cooper. "We need to build up his confidence."

Aunt Sophie retired

Charles Barth reported that Aunt Sophie, who won three stakes here last season en route to being named the meet's top older filly or mare, has been retired. Barth, who bred, trained, and still owns Aunt Sophie, said she never fully recovered from a tendon injury she suffered when contesting the Ballerina Handicap last October at Hastings Park.

"I had her in light training here since the spring, but I was never satisfied with her progress, and I didn't want to risk hurting her again," said Barth. "I finally took her home last week. I'll breed her next year, but I don't know who I'll breed her to. I'll think about that after the racing season is over."

, a 7-year-old daughter of Altazaar and Sister Eunice, by Pirateer, retires with 10 wins from 35 starts for $297,155 in earnings.

Radke galloping horses again

Jockey Kevin Radke took an important step on the comeback trail Thursday, when he began galloping horses for the first time since breaking two bones in his wrist in a spill at Bay Meadows on April 14, 2004. Radke, who got on six horses Thursday morning, said he will begin accepting mounts as soon as he is fit. His agent, Boone McCanna, estimated that would be in about three weeks.

Radke, 33, was Emerald's leading rider in 2002, when he rode 143 winners, and in 2003, when he notched 144 wins.

* A dinner and auction held at Emerald on Tuesday night raised more than $35,000 to benefit the track's daycare center and chapel, according to steward Thelma Lynn, who helped to organize the event.