02/17/2004 1:00AM

Connections to pick a target for Beau's Town

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The first start Beau's Town will make this year during a campaign his connections hope leads to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint is to be determined after he works five furlongs this weekend at Oaklawn Park.

Beau's Town, considered one of the nation's leading sprinters last year with wins in the Grade 2 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup at Del Mar and the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn, had his first published work since October last Saturday in Hot Springs. He breezed five furlongs over a fast track in 1:04.40. Jamie Theriot worked Beau's Town.

"Because of the snow, we had to push the work up a couple of days sooner, so the plan was to really break him off very slow and let him finish up, and that's exactly what he did," said Dave Hulkewicz, who owns Beau's Town. "We just wanted him to get something out of it. Next weekend, we will have a more serious work with him. It will be a serious five-eighths, and that will tell us where we're at fitness-wise."

Hulkewicz said if Beau's Town comes along quickly, his first start of the year could be in the $125,000 Pelleteri Breeders' Cup at Fair Grounds on March 14. If he needs more time, his seasonal debut could come in the $50,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn on March 21. The chief Oaklawn goal for Beau's Town is defense of his title in the $150,000 Count Fleet on April 8.

Beau's Town was headed to the Breeders' Cup Sprint last year, but came out of his final prep for the race, the Grade 3 Phoenix Breeders' Cup, with a small bone chip in an ankle. He has since had the chip removed, and he was working at a training center in Louisiana before arriving at Oaklawn.

Beau's Town won four stakes in six starts last year for trainer Cole Norman.

Sue's Good News tied up in Pippin

As a winner of 5 of 9 starts, Sue's Good News is not the kind of horse who throws in the towel. So when she did not respond to a challenge from eventual winner Drexel Monorail on the final turn of the $50,000 Pippin for fillies and mares last Saturday and finished fifth, her connections knew something was not right.

"She tied up," said Steve Hobby, who trains Sue's Good News for Cresran LLC.

Hobby believes Sue's Good News might not have handled the wet track in the Pippin, which caused her to panic and tie up. A day after the race, the filly was bright-eyed and content, and she is still scheduled to run in the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup on March 13. Sue's Good News won the Grade 3 Singapore Plate last year at Arlington.

Tying-up syndrome is a metabolic malfunction that leads to muscle cramping and muscle cell damage. It can be set off for any number of reasons. There are varying degrees of tying-up syndrome, and in some cases muscles lock up and a horse can have difficulty controlling its hindquarters.

Turn to Lass points for Fantasy

Turn to Lass ($28.80), who wheeled back in eight days and won the $50,000 Martha Washington for 3-year-old fillies on Monday, will be pointed for the Grade 2, $200,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn on April 9, said her trainer, Eugene Brajczewski.

"We're going to try to give her a little break, three or four weeks off," he said. "The whole idea is the Fantasy. We'll miss the next stakes for the Fantasy."

Turn to Lass won a two-other-than allowance race over six furlongs on Feb. 8, then stretched out to a mile for the Martha Washington and led throughout under Roman Chapa.

Crafty Shaw heads Essex field

Crafty Shaw, co-highweighted with Pie N Burger at 118 pounds for the Grade 3, $100,000 Essex Handicap on Saturday, is one of eight probable starters for the race. Pie N Burger, who has not raced since winning the $150,000 Seabiscuit on the Breeders' Cup undercard in October, is considered possible. The 1 1/16-mile race is the lone stakes this weekend at Oaklawn.

Others considered probable by track officials are Docent, runner-up to Crafty Shaw in an allowance prep for the Essex; Ask the Lord; Dusty Spike; Crowned King; Maysville Slew; Missme; and Private Emblem.

Crafty Shaw worked five furlongs in 1:01 after the second race Monday. Craig Perret, who has won on Crafty Shaw all four times he has been paired with him, has the mount in the Essex.

Grand gives Nicks his first win as trainer

Ralph Nicks, the longtime assistant to trainer Bill Mott, won his first race as a trainer on Sunday when Grand ($8.40) rallied from last to win a conditioned allowance. Nicks was not on hand because he was inspecting young horses in Florida. He is a private trainer for Team Valor.

Grand, ridden by Terry Thompson, was the fifth career starter for Nicks, who is the son of longtime Oaklawn-based trainer Morris Nicks.

* Monday's attendance of 30,136 was a meet high.