06/08/2003 11:00PM

Calhoun's 2-year-olds looking tough

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The strength of trainer Bret Calhoun's crop of 2-year-olds was on display Saturday when Next Bandit took the $142,930 colts and geldings division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity here and Cactus Ridge won his career debut at Arlington Park. Both paid $9.40.

At his Lone Star base, Calhoun has won six races for 2-year-olds from nine such starters. His success with young horses is not a surprise, however, as the first major stakes horse Calhoun trained was Cowboy Dan, who finished a neck behind eventual Horse of the Year Favorite Trick in the $100,000 WHAS-11 Stakes at Churchill Downs in 1997.

These days, Calhoun has 15 juveniles in training in his 80-head stable, which is divided among Lone Star, Arlington, and Louisiana Downs.

"We don't have big numbers of 2-year-olds," said Calhoun. "I was actually concerned going into this year because I didn't feel like I had enough 2-year-olds. You need a lot of 2-year-olds to dream for later on. It seems like it takes a large number of them to come up with a few good ones.

"But what ended up happening was, we ended up with a lot of quality. We've got three, four, or five in here that you can't hardly separate."

Aside from Next Bandit, other top 2-year-olds for Calhoun include Beau's County, Canadian River, and Danzig in the Dark.

Calhoun is mapping out his next move with Next Bandit. The $75,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup at Lone Star on July 13 is a possibility, but Calhoun noted that Next Bandit is not BC-eligible, so he would have to run for a purse of $50,000.

"I don't have any other spots picked out right now, and I won't be looking for anything for a month or so, at least," said Calhoun. "That was a monster effort from him [Saturday], to set [fast] fractions and then just accelerate away from them. It was awesome."

Plans for Beau's County are also pending, while debut winners Canadian River and Danzig in the Dark are both being pointed for the $175,000 Texas Stallion Stakes series at Lone Star on June 28.

Calhoun is winning races at a 32 percent clip this meet.

Lanerie gets seven days

Lone Star's leading jockey, Corey Lanerie, who won the Grade 2 Riva Ridge on the Belmont Stakes undercard Saturday, will not ride here Wednesday night. He has been suspended for seven days for his ride aboard Smelly Mountain, who was disqualified from second and placed ninth in the ninth race last Wednesday at Lone Star.

Lanerie's suspension will run through Sunday.

Lanerie won five races from seven starters Friday night at Lone Star before traveling to New York to ride Posse in the Riva Ridge for trainer Steve Asmussen.

LeBlanc could miss three weeks

The initial diagnosis on Kirk LeBlanc, who was injured when his mount, Full Moon Arisin, sat down in the starting gate prior to the colts and geldings division of the TTA Sales Futurity, is a hairline fracture to his tibia, the bone between his knee and ankle.

He was diagnosed by emergency room doctors Saturday but was to get the opinion of his doctor Monday, said his agent, Tony Martin.

LeBlanc could miss three to four weeks of riding at Lone Star.

Bruner gets first win for Durant

Trainer Jack Bruner, who last Monday took over Tom Durant's stable from Ronny Werner, won Thursday night with Spiked Punch, his first starter in his new position.

Bruner, who credited Werner for the win, last trained on his own in 1993.

"This last week's been kind of hectic, but it's starting to level off," Bruner said.

Bruner could saddle his first stakes starter for Durant later this week. Bruner said Super Wager, second last out in a turf allowance, is possible for the $50,000 Miller Lite, a five-furlong turf race for fillies and mares Saturday.

Tex Maring tries statebred allowance

Tex Maring, a maiden winner in his last start, moves into an entry-level allowance for Texas-breds on Wednesday night in the featured eighth race. The 5 1/2-furlong race is worth $27,000.

"It's always tougher facing winners, and he's going to have to step up, but I think he'll move up off his last race," said Cole Norman, who trains Tex Maring.

The chief threats are Setthehook and Tooth Doctor.