03/12/2010 12:00AM

Chief of Affairs sizzles his way into stakes mix


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The near-track-record performance Chief of Affairs turned in Thursday winning an allowance at Oaklawn has put him in the mix for the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap here April 9, said his trainer, Bret Calhoun.

Chief of Affairs covered 5 1/2 furlongs in a blazing 1:02.91. The track record for the distance is 1:02.60. It was set on Feb. 15, 1984, by Sis Pleasure Fager. On Thursday, Chief of Affairs made all the pace and won by 5 1/4 lengths under Cliff Berry.

The horse is one of several stakes-winning sprinters Calhoun has in his stable, with Silver City being his other candidate for the Count Fleet. The horse won his comeback race last weekend at Fair Grounds, taking an allowance at six furlongs with a Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

Silver City led wire to wire, and Calhoun said Friday that because Silver City and Chief of Affairs have the same running style it is now probable just one of them will go in the Count Fleet. He said Chief of Affairs is the more likely candidate for the race at this point, because he has run all meet at Oaklawn. Silver City is with Calhoun's division at Fair Grounds.

Chief of Affairs got a fast track for the first time this meet Thursday, after turning in pacesetting efforts over tiring tracks in his first two races at Oaklawn. He was third by three-quarters of a length in an allowance here Jan. 18, then came back and finished second by a length in the $50,000 King Cotton on Feb. 5. For his effort in the stakes, Chief of Affairs earned a Beyer Figure of 100.

Chief of Affairs, 4, won the first stakes of his career in December at Sam Houston, when he defeated older Texas-breds in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas. For the effort, Chief of Affairs earned a Beyer of 101. He races for Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch.

First work back for Pure Clan

Pure Clan breezed three furlongs in 36.80 seconds Friday at Oaklawn in what was her first work back after a freshening. She last raced on Nov. 6, finishing second by a length in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

Pure Clan is the only Grade 1-winning mare currently stabled at Oaklawn. She was nominated to the Apple Blossom Invitational, but will not be ready for the April 9 race, said her trainer, Bob Holthus.

Bob Holthus said that the target for Pure Clan's return is May at Churchill Downs. Pure Clan is being pointed for the Grade 2, $200,000 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 1.

Pure Clan, the winner of the Grade 1 Flower Bowl this past fall at Belmont Park, races for her breeder, Lewis Lakin. She is a winner of 8 of 16 starts and $1.9 million. She worked Friday under regular exercise rider Steve Schmelzel.

Two-turn test for Grand Sensation

Grand Sensation will move to a mile Friday for the ninth race, a $50,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up at a mile. The last time Grand Sensation ran the distance was May 2009, when he wired a field to win by four lengths. But that was a one-turn mile, at Arlington Park, and he will get the test of a second turn Friday.

Grand Sensation is coupled with Kentucky Man, a regular at two turns, with trainer Steve Hobby naming Corey Nakatani on both halves of the entry. The horses are owned by Alex and Joann Lieblong.

* The seventh annual Oaklawn Trail Ride fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society will be held Tuesday at the Bar 50 Ranch in Bismarck, Ark. More information is available from Betsy Arnold at (501) 623-4411, ext. 753.