12/20/2001 12:00AM

Chicks Regard stepping up to stakes level


Fastest qualifier Chicks Regard will be after his fourth straight win when he starts in Saturday's Grade 3, $149,450 Sunland Fall Futurity at Sunland Park.

Trained by Juan Gonzalez, Chicks Regard will be making his stakes debut after three straight wins against lesser competition.

He started his winning streak by winning his maiden race in his second career start.

After a nearly three-month layoff, Chicks Regard won a Sunland Park allowance race by a neck on Nov. 20. That win set him up for an impressive 1 1/4-length trial win over seventh-fastest qualifier Corona Dot Com. Chicks Regard's time of 19.609 seconds for the 400 yards was the quickest from the six trials held on Dec. 7.

Chicks Regard is not alone in his quest for a first stakes win. None of his rivals in the Sunland Fall Futurity have a stakes win.

Backed by Speed, runner-up in the Grade 1 Dash for Cash Futurity at Lone Star Park, made an impressive Sunland Park debut when she rolled to a half-length win over fellow qualifiers Rare Eye Opener, Kiptys First Dash, and Babe Watcher. Kiptys First Dash qualified for the finals of the Grade 1 West Texas Futurity and Babe Watcher was second in the Grade 1 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity.

Backed by Speed, owned by M.E. Cavasar and trained by John Stinebaugh, has lost only once in his previous six starts. That came in her second-place finish in the $421,650 Dash for Cash Futurity to Baby Doll Form. Her five wins during that stretch came in three futurity trials and a pair of allowance races.

Stinebaugh will also saddle Grade 1 Sam Houston Futurity runner-up Spark a Fortune, who finished a neck behind Winning Blues in their trial.

Winning Blues, trained by Ben Torres, won his maiden at 10-1 with his trial win. It was his fourth start and his first since June 10.

Tailor Fit fine after Champions win

Tailor Fit, the 1999 world champion and leading contender for 2001 world champion honors, came out of his victory in Sunday's Grade 1, $500,000 Champion of Champions in good order, according to trainer Janet VanBebber.

"He about pulled my dad off the plane," VanBebber said from her Texas base. "He pulled up great. He'll go to the clinic and get looked over."

VanBebber anticipates another light racing campaign in 2002 for Tailor Fit, owned by Betty Jane Burlins. In 2001, he started six times, with Grade 1 wins in the Remington Park Championship, MBNA America Challenge Championship, and the Champion of Champions.

VanBebber, who took over the stable from her late husband, Steve, a year ago, led the nation in stakes win this year and tied her husband's record of 58 wins during the Sam Houston meet.

She is the leading prospect for champion trainer honors, to be announced by the American Quarter Horse Association in late January.

"Ultimately, this year has been a blessing," she said.