04/13/2004 11:00PM

Bedanken heads stable's star parade

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Donnie Von Hemel could rack up the stakes wins over the first month of racing at Lone Star Park. Saturday, he plans to start probable favorite Bedanken in the $75,000 Irving Distaff. Next weekend, Cryptograph is on deck for the $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge April 24, while Where's the Ring will start next on May 8 in the $75,000 Ford Express.

The three are just a sampling of the stakes winners Von Hemel has in his quality-stocked barn. See How She Runs, a Grade 2 winner, is a candidate to defend her title in the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes on May 31. And another bullet in the Von Hemel barn is Sand N Surf, winner of the $50,000 Spring Fever two starts ago at Oaklawn. She is being pointed for the $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows on April 24.

Where's the Ring should be one of the favorites in the Ford Express. In his last start, he finished second by a head to millionaire Shake You Down in the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn.

"He gave a big effort, and was a jump short of getting one of the best sprinters in the country," said Von Hemel.

Cryptograph also ran big this spring at Oaklawn. He won two allowance races before finishing fourth to Smarty Jones in the $200,000 Rebel Stakes. Smarty Jones went on to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby and is now one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby.

Cryptograph will be returning to turf for the Grand Prairie Turf Challenge. He won his maiden on the surface before picking up the two allowance wins, both on dirt. Cryptograph's other goal at the Lone Star meet is the $200,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes on May 31.

Von Hemel, who for years has operated one of this region's strongest barns, is pleased to see the Breeders' Cup coming to Lone Star this year. The championships will be run during a special fall meet on Oct. 30.

"I think that the momentum building to that will be good for their [spring] season," he said. "I think it's great to have the Breeders' Cup in this area of the country, and I would hope they would be a part of the rotation. We've got a lot of horsemen and horse racing fans in this part of the country, and the convenience offered to them to run it [here] is a good thing that can only help racing overall."

Beau's Town to Ford Express

Beau's Town, who developed into one of the nation's top sprinters last year, is being pointed to the Ford Express, said his owner, Dave Hulkewicz.

Beau's Town returned from a six-month layoff last out and finished fourth in the Count Fleet. He won the Count Fleet last year, as well as the Pelleteri Breeders' Cup at Fair Grounds and the Grade 2 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup at Del Mar.

Hulkewicz said Beau's Town came out of the Count Fleet in good shape, and that the long-term goal remains the Breeders' Cup Sprint. In his lone start at Lone Star, Beau's Town won the Ford Express in 2002.

"Everything points to this race," said Hulkewicz. "The track will have the Breeders' Cup, the race is back to six furlongs this year, and the timing is perfect, coming a month after the Count Fleet. I think it's a pretty good move."

The Wes Hawley-trained Aloha Bold is also under consideration for the Ford Express.

Feature a sprint for 3-year-olds

The featured eighth race at Lone Star on Friday night is a change of pace. At a time when many 3-year-olds are testing their skills around two turns, this nonwinner-of-three allowance will be held at 6 1/2 furlongs. The race drew a field of 11, including New York Harbor, who last September won the $100,000 El Joven at a mile on turf at Retama Park.

South Africa and Canadian River have both spent their careers sprinting. South Africa won his debut at six furlongs and earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, and in his most recent start he finished second in an optional claimer at Oaklawn on Feb. 29. Defending training champ Cole Norman has given the mount to Jamie Theriot.

Canadian River drew out by more than eight lengths in his last start, when he won a five-furlong conditioned allowance at Delta Downs and earned an 89 Beyer, the highest last-race number among all starters Friday. Eddie Martin Jr. has the mount for trainer Bret Calhoun.

* Steven Crist, chairman and publisher of Daily Racing Form, is scheduled to sign copies of his book "Betting On Myself" on Saturday at Lone Star.