06/04/2008 11:00PM

Delaware Oaks a likely target for Storm Mesa


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Storm Mesa, who owns the year's best Beyer Speed Figure for a 3-year-old filly, will likely make her next start in the Delaware Oaks, her trainer, Bret Calhoun, said Wednesday. The Grade 2, $500,000 race will be run at Delaware Park on July 12.

Storm Mesa was scheduled to ship from her Lone Star Park base to Calhoun's division at Churchill Downs on Wednesday night. She won the $100,000 Cinemine at Lone Star on May 26 in her most recent start. Storm Mesa powered to a 13 1/2-length victory over multiple stakes winner Sky Mom that day, and for the effort earned a Beyer Figure of 108, the highest number earned by a 3-year-old filly so far in 2008.

Storm Mesa has also been under consideration for the Grade 3, $200,000 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows on June 27, but because she is coming off a career-best race, her connections like the added time she would get between starts if she goes in the Delaware Oaks. Both races will be run at 1o1/16 miles.

"We're leaning toward the Delaware Oaks," said Calhoun, who trains Storm Mesa, a daughter of Sky Mesa, for Richard L. Davis.

Storm Mesa won at seven furlongs in the Cinemine, and before that won back-to-back mile races, one at Lone Star and the other at Fair Grounds.

Scrappy Roo eyes Claiming Crown

Scrappy Roo, a former $15,000 claimer who captured the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup at Sam Houston Race Park in April, could start later this year in the Claiming Crown, said his trainer, John Locke. The horse is a candidate for the $100,000 Emerald, to be run at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Canterbury Park on Aug. 2.

"Short term, things we'd be looking at would be the starter series here," said Locke.

Scrappy Roo is one of the top horses in Locke's barn, which appears to be in the midst of a banner year. Locke is third in the current standings at Lone Star, and also has a division for the first time at Louisiana Downs, where he is 2 for 7. He is coming off a career year in which his horses won 120 races and $1.5 million. And it seems Locke is poised to pass those numbers with seven months left in 2008, since his stable has already won 58 races and earned $805,534.

Part of his success is being driven by a strong meet at Sam Houston, where he captured the training title for the first time. He won 50 races from 251 starters at the meet that ran from the fall of 2007 through April, and his stable earned $603,653. Locke has been racing at Sam Houston since it opened in 1994.

"Everything worked out really good," Locke said of the recent meet at Sam Houston. "I had really good help down there. [Assistant] Eduardo Ramirez did a really good job, and then we just had the right horses for the right spots."

Scrappy Roo won five straight races to be named Sam Houston's horse of the meet, rising from the $25,000 claiming ranks to graded stakes winner by the season's end. Locke also did well with Hollye Lynne, a $4,000 claim who three starts later won the $75,000 Martanza on the Texas Champions Day card Dec. 1.

Locke, 65, began training in 1989 after he sold his veterinary practice in Hays, Kansas. He picked up the 1,000th win of his career at Oaklawn in April. Other top horses in his barn include Flamefinder, who won a Texas-bred allowance on turf at Lone Star on May 24. He defeated a field that included multiple stakes winner Goosey Moose, and is a candidate for the turf starter series at Lone Star, said Locke.

Festive Rain will represent Locke in the featured ninth race Friday night. She will start as a top contender in an optional $35,000 claimer for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf. In two recent races at this level, Festive Rain won on May 1, and was third in her last start May 18. Richard Eramia has the mount. The chief threat could be the Calhoun-trained Southern Ransom.