04/22/2003 11:00PM

Bonapaw stretching out again in Texas Mile


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Bonapaw will be making lots of changes Saturday when he makes his first start at Lone Star Park in the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile. He is stretching back out around two turns, reuniting with jockey Gerard Melancon, and running for just one owner, Dennis Richard.

Bonapaw has long raced for both Dennis and his twin brother, Jimmy Richard, but Jimmy, who had been sick for quite some time, died March 26. Jimmy Richard, 60, co-owned Twin Tire and Auto Care Inc., with Dennis. He was born in New Orleans.

Dennis Richard made the decision to start their stable star in the Texas Mile.

"He wanted to try him at Lone Star," said Norman Miller, who trains Bonapaw. "Back when he was a 3-year-old, Bonapaw was training there and worked a mile, which we were told was the fastest mile ever worked at Lone Star.

"Since [Bonapaw] showed an affinity for the track there, he would like to try him."

Bonapaw worked a mile at Lone Star May 7, 1999, covering the distance in 1:39.20. It is difficult to verify whether that is the fastest work in the seven-year history of the track, but it could be, according to clocker Rick Lee.

"I can't imagine we had ever clocked anything faster than 1:40," said Lee, who has worked as one of Lone Star's clockers since its second season in 1998.

Bonapaw is seeking his first win of the year following a powerful 2002 campaign in which he won 5 of 9 starts, including the Grade 1 Vosburgh.

Melancon was aboard for that win, but has not been teamed with Bonapaw in his last three starts: a third-place finish in the Grade 3, $125,000 Whirlaway; a sixth in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap; and a third in the $150,000 Pelleteri Breeders' Cup, all at Fair Grounds.

"Gerard was open, took the call, and we were happy about it," said Miller.

Bonapaw, who has won 17 races and more than $1 million, has built his fortune in one-turn races and will be looking for his first two-turn victory since 1999, when he won a one-mile turf race at Fair Grounds. Miller and Richard have confidence he will again get the trip following his third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway on Feb. 9.

"In the Whirlaway, you had Balto Star and Mineshaft - proven routers, - and to be right behind those two, we were tickled to death with how he ran," said Miller.

From there, Bonapaw finished sixth in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at 1 1/8 miles, and from now on, Miller said Richard wants to keep Bonapaw racing between five furlongs and a mile. Bonapaw won the Grade 3, $100,000 Hanshin, a one-turn at Arlington, last July.

Miller said Bonapaw could be based at Arlington this summer, but that decision will be made later. For now, the focus is on the Texas Mile, and in one of his final major preps for the race, Bonapaw worked a mile in 1:42 at Folsom Training Center in Louisiana on April 16.

"It was more or less a two-minute lick," said Miller. "We won't have any excuses. He's training super; doing well. I think his run will come here shortly. It might start Saturday."

In other Texas Mile news, leading contender Wiseman's Ferry did not board a plane from Kentucky on Wednesday as expected. Officials said they expected Unrullah Bull and Dynameaux to be in the field.

Sneak preview of Miller Lite

A first look at some of the fillies and mares under consideration for the $50,000 Miller Lite Stakes at Lone Star on June 14 will come Friday in the featured seventh race, a five-furlong turf allowance that drew dirt stakes winners Taylor's Queen and Miss Photogenic.

Also in the seven-horse field is the promising Count My Nichols and turf sprint specialist Super Wager.