05/01/2003 11:00PM

Derby runner profile: Lone Star Sky

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STRENGTHS: He is certainly one of the more experienced horses in the field, and he has steady Beyer Speed Figures. Like the rest of these, he has never tried this distance, but his closing style should suit him well here, and he would be one of the horses to benefit most from a quick, contested pace. He regressed some in the Illinois Derby but may be set to run back to his prior race, when he earned a Beyer Figure of 98 with a late run in the Louisiana Derby. He also won his only start over this strip, the 2002 Bashford Manor Stakes, and that is a big edge given that some horses do not handle this surface well.

WEAKNESSES: Obviously he has not run to his potential this year after a solid juvenile campaign, and he failed in his most recent try despite a great setup in front of him; there were several speed horses in the race, and the resulting fast, contested fractions should have been an ideal pace scenario for him. He has won at two turns but two of his three wins have come in sprint races, and his pedigree suggests that he is best at one turn.

STRATEGY: He has the speed to stay close, but he is obviously at his best when he is able to stalk the pace and make one run. That tactical speed should help him gain position, and his best shot would be to get first run at dueling leaders.

VALUE: He will offer a big price, as he has lost his last six races, including a couple against the same horses he will be facing in the Derby. His best hope would be a perfect trip behind a collapsing speed duel among Funny Cide, Indian Express, and Peace Rules, but he is still going to be a hard-pressed to get a major part of this regardless of the race flow, as he has not proven that he can handle the distance or the competition.

PEDIGREE PROFILE

SIRE LINE: The recently deceased Conquistador Cielo took the racing world by storm when he won the Metropolitan Handicap and Belmont Stakes within a five-day period in 1982. Sprinting through the slop in the Belmont, Conquistador Cielo had speed as his game, and while many of his runners handle middle distances, he is primarily a speed influence by Mr. Prospector.

FEMALE FAMILY: There is lots of quality from this Tartan Farms female family. The unraced Ministrada is a half-sister to Blue Grass Stakes runner-up Conte Di Savoya. His second dam, Funistrada, was a multiple stakes winner and full sister to a stakes winner Wakonda, and his third dam, Mesabi, is a half-sister to a U.S. grass champion Cozzene.

PEDIGREE PATTERN: The speed of Conquistador Cielo and Lone Star Sky's broodmare sire, Deputy Minister, combined with the class of a strong Tartan family. Lone Star Sky is best suited to distances up to 1 1/16 miles.

- Pedigree profile by Lauren Stich