12/08/2001 12:00AM

Bonapaw may race in Dubai


NEW ORLEANS - Team Bonapaw might be headed to Dubai.

Kevin Greely, the racing secretary at Nad al Sheba Racecourse, put in a call this week to the connections of Bonapaw, the top sprinter at Fair Grounds, asking them to nominate the horse to the $2 million Dubai Golden Sheema this March - which is exactly what Bonapaw's New Orleans owners, Jim and Dennis Richards, had hoped for all along.

"They definitely want to go," said trainer Tucker Alonzo.

So if everything goes well with Bonapaw in the next couple months, Alonzo said, the plan is to make the trip to Dubai, quite a step for a horse who made his first two starts at tiny Evangeline Downs. But Bonapaw has come a long way since then, and after hiccupping this summer at Saratoga, when he needed a break from racing, Bonapaw came back with a vengeance, winning the Thanksgiving Day Handicap here by more than four lengths.

Alonzo said Bonapaw would continue racing in Fair Grounds stakes up to his trip to Dubai, and the horse is slated to run Dec. 16 in the Gaudin Memorial, provided he recovers in time from a nasty fall last week.

Bonapaw completed an awesome workout Thursday, breezing five furlongs in 58.80 seconds, and after cooling out was taken just outside Alonzo's Fair Grounds barn to have his feet cleaned. Another horse close to him spooked, startling Bonapaw, who fell hard to the ground.

"He had a hematoma on his shoulder the size of a grapefruit," said Alonzo, "and he scraped up his knee pretty good. But he's walking good and he looks good."

Alonzo plans on keeping Bonapaw in the barn until Tuesday, when he will have his final work for the Gaudin if his wounds have suitably healed.

Royal Turka has pedigree for turf

The far-flung owner Richard Englander is not shy about his claims.

Englander will seemingly jump into any situation and pluck a horse from a race. For instance, on Oct. 16 at Delaware Park, Englander claimed Royal Turka, a first-time starter, for $40,000. She won by a length sprinting on the dirt, and on Monday at Fair Grounds she gets a chance to do what she was bred to do, run long on turf.

A daughter of Breeders' Cup Mile winner Royal Academy, Royal Turka faces nine rivals in a first-level allowance race for 2-year-old fillies, the eighth of 10 races here. Lending strength to the card are the ninth, a second-level sprint allowance, and the fourth, a maiden sprint stocked with promising prospects.

Royal Turka makes her first start for trainer Mike Pino, who wintered here for the first time last season, and after a rocky start, established himself by meet's end. Jockey Eddie Martin, who has been the king of the Fair Grounds turf so far this season, has a call on Royal Turka.

In the fourth race, two impressive Fair Grounds training race performers, Mouthadasouth and Don Juan, make their career debut.