04/11/2007 12:00AM

Calhoun duo debuting on turf


In their wilder dreams, the connections of Makeithapencaptain might have imagined plotting a trip to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby about this time of the spring. Instead, Makeithapencaptain will try to regain some lost luster when he races on turf for the first time in the featured eighth race on Friday evening at Lone Star Park.

Makeithapencaptain was one of eight horses entered in the Friday feature, a second-level turf allowance race for 3-year-olds. The feature is one of three turf races carded for Lone Star's redone grass course, which was peeled back and aerated during the track's off-season. He also is one of two horses entered in the race by trainer Bret Calhoun, who is also sending out El Kabong, another first-time turf horse.

Makeithapencaptain, owned by Robert Beck, debuted with a good third last summer at Arlington - and then really started rolling. He won a Hawthorne maiden race in mid-October by more than eighth lengths, and then, in his first try around two turns, he captured an entry-level allowance race there by more than 16 lengths. That was the win that pushed Makeithapencaptain into the picture as a late-season 2-year-old to watch, but the colt failed to follow up on this Hawthorne success at age 3.

At Fair Grounds, Makeithapencaptain had a less-than-ideal trip when he finished fourth, beaten some 13 lengths by Hard Spun, in the Jan. 13 Lecomte Stakes, and the Grade 3 Risen Star a month later turned out even worse, with Makeithapencaptain a distant 10th after setting a fast pace, fading, and getting into severe traffic trouble at about the quarter pole.

Expectations were scaled back, and Makeithapencaptain made his next start in the $45,000 Texas Heritage last month at Sam Houston, but even though he ran better there, he lost again, finishing third. Makeithapencaptain is by Aptitude, who hasn't really had enough turf runners yet to reach a firm judgment on the grass ability of his offspring. Calhoun's other horse, El Kabong, is out of a mare by Cozzene, which is more dead-on turf than Makeithapencaptain has in his pedigree.

Three others in the race already have won over turf, including Kayla's Magic, who is 2 for 2 on grass. Handicappers, however, may look skeptically at that pair of turf wins, the first of which came in a Retama Park maiden win, the second over just five rivals in a Retama entry-level allowance race.

Still, five of the horses in the race are eligible for an entry-level allowance, so any proven turf ability - or even the proven dirt class of Makeithapencaptain - may suffice to take the Friday feature.