12/12/2007 12:00AM

Cave's Valley will focus on Eastern stakes

EmailThe connections of the promising Cave's Valley, who experienced his first career defeat last week in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs, will start mapping out a 3-year-old campaign for the horse next week. It could include races at his Laurel Park base and Aqueduct.

"We have quite a few options," said Michael Trombetta, who trains Cave's Valley. "For now, we'll keep him up north. We'll be looking in this corridor here."

Cave's Valley finished seventh as the second wagering choice in the Jackpot. He was forced to steady on the final turn, and finished eight lengths behind dead-heat winners Z Humor and Turf War, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 81. A maiden winner at Saratoga, Cave's Valley had captured consecutive stakes at Delaware Park heading into the Jackpot.

"I really believe the race was a little bit of a fluke for him," Trombetta said of the Jackpot.

Trombetta said Ramon Dominguez, who rode Cave's Valley, told him following the race that he felt the horse was not quite as comfortable with the Delta surface as he would have hoped.

"It's quite different than what he's run on and what he trains over," said Trombetta.

Trombetta said upcoming race choices in the region include the Miracle Wood and Private Terms at Laurel, and the Whirlaway and Gotham at Aqueduct.

Plans for Jonesboro, Coolwind

Jonesboro and Coolwind each turned in strong stakes wins on the Jackpot undercard, and both horses are being targeted for upcoming stakes in the mid-South region. Jonesboro was traveling to his winter base of Oaklawn Park on Wednesday. He won the $75,000 Sam's Town for the second straight year last Friday, and earned a Beyer of 102.

"We're going to freshen him up a little bit now," said Randy Morse, who trains Jonesboro.

Morse said Jonesboro would be pointed for the Grade 3, $100,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn on Feb. 9. The horse won the race last year. Jonesboro will also be nominated to the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston on Jan. 26.

Coolwind picked up the second stakes win of her career in the $75,000 Treasure Chest. Her trainer, Greg Geier, said she would be pointed for the $60,000 Truly Bound Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds on Jan. 19.

Perfect tour guide for Mott

Z Humor, who dead-heated for the win in the Jackpot, was Bill Mott's first starter at Delta, and the Hall of Fame trainer had a great tour guide for his stay in Vinton, La. Mott's assistant, Keith Allen, is a former jockey who won the Delta riding title in 1982.

Allen, 41, grew up about 30 miles from Vinton in Beaumont, Texas. He also rode his first career winner at Delta, and was thrilled to land in the track's winner's circle some 25 years later last Friday.

"It was quite nice because all of my family came over," he said. "So, we had quite the homecoming in the winner's circle."

Allen retired from race riding in 1995. Among other highlights, he won the inaugural running of the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland in 1984 aboard Sintra. Following the race, Allen met Queen Elizabeth.

Nolan extends his hot hand

Jockey Paul Nolan picked up his fourth stakes win in the last two weeks at Sam Houston last Saturday night, when he guided Gold Sound to victory in the $25,000 Buffalo Bayou.

The win came a weekend after Nolan captured three stakes on the Texas Champions Day card at Sam Houston on Dec. 1. Among his victories were the featured $100,000 Star of Texas with Sandburr. Nolan said the night was a career highlight for him. He began race riding in 1989.

"It ranks right up there," he said. "I'd never won that many stakes on a night."

Nolan, 45, is a native of Rugeley, England. He came to the United States in 1987, and from that time until he began race riding he galloped horses for trainer Carl Nafzger.

Nafzger will speak to Texas horsemen

Nafzger, who won this year's Kentucky Derby with Street Sense, will be the keynote speaker at the Texas Thoroughbred Association's annual meeting next month at the Doubletree Hotel in Austin.

Nafzger will speak during a Jan. 19 banquet honoring the year's top Texas-breds. The master of ceremonies for the event is Chris Lincoln. The annual meeting includes a number of educational seminars leading up to the banquet. Tickets can be purchased through the TTA.

Stars out at Sunland

Rocky Gulch, the all-time richest New Mexico-bred Thoroughbred, and Peppers Pride, who is undefeated in 13 career starts, are both expected to see stakes action Sunday at Sunland Park. Rocky Gulch is a candidate for the $125,000 Johnie Jamison, while Peppers Pride is expected to shoot for win No. 14 in the $125,000 New Mexico Racing Commission Handicap.

* Timely Reflection, the winner of the $75,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial at Louisiana Downs in August, is a candidate for the $100,000 Tiffany Lass for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds on Jan. 12, said her trainer, Bret Calhoun.