07/08/2005 12:00AM

Former rivals striking it big as teammates


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Bobby Beck and Mark Cornett were once archrivals while chasing the ownership title at their home track of Lone Star Park. Now, they are on the same team and have won 10 races from 11 starts since forming a partnership in March.

The men race as Turf Express Inc. and Robert L. Beck, and have started horses at Lone Star, Louisiana Downs, and tracks in northern California.

"How about those two enemies teaming up?" said Beck. "We used to battle it out pretty hard."

"We were battling pretty heavy in '02 for the owners' title," said Cornett.

In the end, Ken Murphy won over Cornett, who finished two wins ahead of Beck, but out of the competition came friendship and now a booming stable led by Lunachick. She was the first purchase for Beck and Cornett, and after winning 3 of 4 starts for them, including the $55,000 Vallejo at Golden Gate Fields, she is now being pointed for the Grade 1, $250,000 Test Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 6.

Victory Lap was the next purchase, and she won her three races for Beck and Cornett, including the $50,000 Chapel Belle at Louisiana Downs. Following that race she was sold to John Pucek, and last week she won the $100,000 Lone Star Oaks, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 and a possible trip to the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

The next addition to the stable was Ghostwriter, who was claimed to race at Lone Star and has won all three of his starts for Beck and Cornett. And then there is Somethinaboutlaura, who won an allowance in her lone start for a new partnership that includes Cornett and Beck. She is now being pointed for the $100,000 Fleet Treat for 3-year-old fillies bred in California at Del Mar on July 23.

"Mark's got a real knack for finding [promising] horses that are maybe running for a maiden tag somewhere," said Beck. "That's how we [found] Lunachick. Victory Lap was kind of the same. She was purchased after a maiden $45,000 win."

"We want to buy up-and-coming fillies - any filly we think we can do good with, and win a stakes or a graded stakes with," said Cornett. "It's pretty hard to find these kind of horses. There's a long, drawn out process of, a, finding the horse; b, negotiating the price that we can live with; and c, the horse has still got to vet out."

It has been worth the effort. Lunachick, who made her debut for a claiming price of $40,000, has created a buzz in northern California, starting with a 13-length allowance win April. After her four-length romp in the Vallejo, trainer Steve Miyadi got some interesting feedback, said Beck.

"The crowd was joking him about when she's going to run against Lost in the Fog," said Beck. "We think she's pretty special. She should have won both of the stakes she was in already. She got in horrible trouble the first time; the last time, she came back and ran like the horse we thought she was - she ran a 102 Beyer, and there haven't been too many 3-year-old fillies who've run those kind of numbers this year. And so we're going to take her to Saratoga and give her a shot in the Test and see what happens. She's got a lot of speed and a lot of talent, but until you run them against the really good ones, you don't know."

Beck continues to race some horses on his own, and Cornett has partnerships with other people, but the two will continue to make a lot of noise as a team, said Tony Bedford, an advisor and friend of Beck.

"I think Mark and Bobby will stay partners for a long time," said Bedford. "They get along fine, and when it comes to [the horse business], they've done very, very well."

* Good Humor Gal should be sharp for the the featured eighth race Sunday. She exits a seven-furlong race in which she pushed the pace and finished third. She will face nine others in the optional claiming turf route for fillies and mares.