08/20/2007 11:00PM

Forty Acres finds two turns to his liking


BOSSIER CITY, La. - A lack of suitable sprint options for Forty Acres led his connections to try him at two turns, an experiment that has gone so well he will run next month in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Forty Acres's dominant win in the $100,000 Prelude on Saturday earned him a fees-paid berth in the Sept. 22 Super Derby. It was the second straight two-turn victory for Forty Acres, who had impressed earlier in the meet when he romped in an optional claiming sprint on June 9.

"He was running short pretty much all the time and he was doing good, so we didn't think about stretching him out until a stakes on the grass two races back because there was nowhere for him to run," said Jorge Lara, who trains Forty Acres for Bill and Denise Morrison. "We just decided to give him a try going long, and thought maybe he'll like it."

Forty Acres set the pace and finished third in the $50,000 Seeking the Gold, run over a mile on soft turf on June 23. Lara felt the horse did not handle the ground but did like the distance, and proceeded to enter him in a two-turn allowance on dirt on July 26. Forty Acres won by 7 1/2 lengths to earn a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 93.

"They hooked him early, and he still had plenty of gas left," Lara said. "He did it easy, so that's why we went in the Prelude."

Forty Acres broke from post 10 on Saturday and was clear before the first turn came up in the 1 1/16-mile race. Lara said the horse's gate speed is one of his best assets. The next test will be the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Super Derby.

"If they let him do it easy on the front end, and he doesn't get too much pressure, I don't think the extra distance is going to affect him," Lara said. "We'll have to see what happens."

Forty Acres's two-turn prowess is not without some pedigree precedent. He is a half-brother to Bunker Hill Road, who earned a Beyer of 116 for his win in the $40,000 Crabapple at a mile at Oaklawn in 1997, and Bessette, whose six wins came around two turns. Forty Acres is by the Forty Niner stallion West Acre. He was bred in Arkansas.

St. Zarb sidelined with fracture

St. Zarb, one of the nation's winningest horses with a 6-for-8 record in 2007, will be out for at least the rest of the year after suffering a slab fracture to his right knee, owner and trainer Cyril Hicks said.

He said St. Zarb injured himself while winning the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby here Julyo21. St. Zarb was well clear in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile race, but ended up winning by a neck.

"He opened up four on them and looked like he might win by 10, then started shortening up [his stride] at the eighth pole," Hicks said. "He was able to hang in there. That was the cause of it."

Hicks said the fracture was non-displaced. St. Zarb underwent surgery to place one screw in the knee.

"It was a picture-perfect surgery if there was a picture-perfect surgery," he said. "He's doing excellent. We're walking him twice a day. It won't be long until he'll go to the paddock."

Hicks said he will let St. Zarb dictate when it is time to resume training. Earlier this year, the horse won the $100,000 Crescent City Derby at Fair Grounds and the $48,000 Free Spirit's Joy at Louisiana Downs. Hicks said it had been his intent to run St. Zarb in the Prelude.

Track proposes later start in '08

Louisiana Downs has proposed opening its meet two weeks later next year in its dates application to the Louisiana Racing Commission. The proposal will be heard during a commission meeting Friday.

Louisiana Downs is seeking an 87-date meet that would run from Mayo17 through Oct. 25. This year, the meet opened May 4 and will continue through Oct. 20. The schedule was proposed following negotiations with Louisiana horsemen and officials at neighboring Lone Star Park near Dallas.

"We've had some conversations with Lone Star about not going head-to-head as much," said Mark Midland, vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs. "That's part of it."

The new schedule also trims off five dates, which Midland said will "increase purses a little bit." During the commission meeting, Louisiana Downs also will seek a 40-date Quarter Horse meet, from Jan. 12 through March 18. Evangeline Downs has asked for an 89-date Thoroughbred meet, from April 2 to Sept. 1.

* Lemony Cricket moves back to dirt, site of her seven-length maiden win, in the featured ninth race Thursday. The first-level allowance is for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards. Carlos Gonzalez has the mount for trainer Dallas Keen.