02/24/2006 12:00AM

'Castle' looks eager to run

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Run me. That is what multiple stakes winner Rodeo's Castle is telling trainer Beverly Fowler, and that is what she will do on Sunday.

Rodeo's Castle will take on five others in the featured ninth, an optional claimer over six furlongs that has a purse of $40,000. Among his rivals are Grade 3 winner Level Playingfield and stakes winners Grand Bank and Bubba Gum.

Rodeo's Castle was not scheduled to race until next month in the $50,000 Hot Springs on March 19, but he has had other ideas of late.

"We're watching him buck and kick and play coming off the track," said Fowler, who trains Rodeo's Castle for Byron W. House III. "I said, 'All right, we need to find something to do.' "

registered his biggest career win two starts ago in the $250,000 Duncan F. Kenner Breeders' Cup at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs on Jan. 14. In his last start, he finished sixth in the $50,000 King Cotton at Oaklawn on Feb. 4.

In the King Cotton, a six-furlong race, Rodeo's Castle dueled over a laboring track and finished four lengths behind winner Beau's Town. Since then, Rodeo's Castle has breezed five furlongs in 1:04.20, on Feb. 17.

"He worked really well and came back out of it real sharp," said Fowler, who has given the mount to John Jacinto.

also exits the King Cotton, in which he finished a troubled seventh. "He really got shut off," said Bob Holthus, who trains Level Playingfield for Fly Racing. "He had no chance."

Since the race, Level Playingfield has worked sharply, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.80 on Jan. 25. A strong closer, he has finished first, second, or third in 7 of 9 starts at Oaklawn, and overall has won 7 of 30 starts and $456,215.

"He's always a tough little horse," said Holthus, who will ride John McKee. "He always tries."

Bernie Flint, who on Friday was one win from career training victory 3,000, will start . In his last start, Safe Play romped by six lengths in an optional claimer and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 102, the highest last-race number in the field. Flint will give a leg up to Stewart Elliott.

The field is completed by King Carlos, who has won 3 of his last 4 starts.