08/25/2009 11:00PM

Caldwell looks to hit ground running


No trainer will be more active on Retama Park's opening-night card Friday than J.R. Caldwell. Fresh off a career meet at Lone Star Park, the 34-year-old has horses in five of the track's nine races. Chief among his starters is Elitist. She is a top contender in the featured eighth race, an optional claimer for fillies and mares at a mile on turf that drew a full field of 12.

Caldwell went 14 for 64 during the Lone Star meet that ended July 26. He has since had his 20-horse stable settled in at Retama.

"I've got 15 to enter over opening weekend," Caldwell said. "I've been waiting here a month and am ready to fire some bullets."

Caldwell, a native of Idaho and the son of retired trainer Roscoe Caldwell, won his first race as a trainer at Turf Paradise in 1995. He spent his time racing in Arizona and at the California fairs until 2001, when the expense of doing business in California led him to test the waters in Texas.

Caldwell built his business in this region by developing young horses for the racetrack. But some clients decided to keep their horses in training with him, and over the last year Caldwell has been able to set up a sizeable racing stable at the track again. He follows the circuit in Texas.

"I built up the barn breaking babies," he said. "It got me going and gave me the opportunity to leave [the farm] and train at the track. I'd always had one or two every year at the track here, but I finally got a good group of horses and owners that allow me to compete."

Caldwell said his barn is a mix of older claiming horses and young horses, among them City Champ, a 2-year-old who is a candidate for both the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes and the $100,000 El Joven this meet at Retama.

Caldwell has won 22 races from 113 starters this year to already top his previous best year, 2008, when he went 16 for 126.

Greeley's Conquest eyes Premier Cup

Greeley's Conquest, who won the $200,000 Remington Park Sprint Championship last Saturday, will be considered for a start in the $100,000 Premier Cup at Zia Park on Sept. 13, trainer Gary Thomas said.

"I don't know just yet what we're going to do," he said. "We'll see how he comes out of this one."

Greeley's Conquest turned in one of the best efforts of his career in the Sprint Championship, for which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 96. He is one of two quality older horses Thomas has in training at Remington.

Golden Yank, winner of last year's $350,000 Oklahoma Derby, returned to Thomas's stable this past week. In his most recent start, Golden Yank was fourth in a $100,000 optional claimer at Churchill Downs on May 24.

"He's been turned out a little while, been back here now for a few days," Thomas said.

Both horses race for Millard Seldin.

Got Koko heads Texas Hall of Fame class

Got Koko, the Texas-bred winner of the Grade 1 La Brea in 2002, is one of five individuals who will be inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Retama on Oct. 10.

Others set to be enshrined are the late Harold Goodman, who was an owner and breeder, and the late Jeff Carr, a past president of the board of Retama Partners Ltd. Top Deck, an influential sire of Quarter Horses, and Pass Over, a champion Quarter Horse in the 1970s, also will be inducted into the hall.

Ivansbay goes for five in a row

Ivansbay will be seeking his fifth straight win Friday night, when he starts in the Grade 1, $321,900 Sam Houston Quarter Horse Futurity. The 400-yard race will share a program with the $121,700 Sam Houston Derby. The track will close out its meet Saturday.

Ivansbay began his win streak May 10, when he won his maiden at Delta Downs. From there, he traveled to Sam Houston and won a trial race May 29, the Grade 2 Texas Quarter Horse Association Sire Futurity finale June 13, and his trial for the Sam Houston Futurity on Aug. 13.

Frank Cavazos trains Ivansbay and has given the mount to J.R. Ramirez. The men also will team up in the Sam Houston Derby with First Down Mr Jess, who last year won the Sam Houston Futurity.

Lone Star yearling auction on Monday

Fasig-Tipton Texas has cataloged 370 horses to its annual summer yearling sale at Lone Star on Monday. The auction will begin at 10 a.m.

Among the stallions represented with offspring in the sale are Bandini, Birdstone, Congaree, Even the Score, Leestown, Rockport Harbor, Strong Contender, and Valid Expectations.

* An Oklahoma-bred son of Alphabet Soup brought a $33,000 bid from Norma Stockseth to top the Oklahoma City summer yearling sale last Monday. The unnamed colt was consigned by agent Red Earth Training Center.