01/24/2007 12:00AM

A fresh start for More Than Regal

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More Than Regal won four stakes at 3, but now must face older rivals.¶

More Than Regal was a four-time stakes winner last year at 3. He will be moving into a new division on Saturday night when he makes his first start of the year in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup Handicap at Sam Houston Race Park.

“It’s his first time against older horses,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains More Than Regal for Vinery Stables. “I think it’s a good spot for him to get back in there and see what he can do.”

More Than Regal closed out his strong campaign last year, which included a victory in the $250,000 Iowa Derby, with a win in the $157,000 Zia Park Derby on Dec. 9. He was one of 10 horses entered in the Maxxam when the field for the 1 1/8-mile race was drawn Wednesday. More Than Regal will break from post 9 under Roman Chapa.

Mr. Pursuit, the winner of last year’s $275,000 Oklahoma Derby, was made the 3-1 favorite on Sam Houston’s morning line for the Maxxam. He is the race’s 121-pound highweight, with More Than Regal weighted next at 120.

The complete field from the rail with riders is: Andanight, Benito Morales; Middleweight, Jesse Campbell; Golden Glen, Shane Romero; Charming Socialite, Larry Taylor; Mr. Pursuit, Cliff Berry; Student Council, Robby Albarado; Real Echo, Diego Saenz; Goosey Moose, Don Simington; More Than Regal; Laura’s Choice, Salvador Perez.

Middleweight is the defending champ in the Maxxam. He invades from Fair Grounds, as does Student Council, who won an optional claiming race at a mile in his last start. Student Council earned a Beyer Figure of 96, which is the highest last-race Beyer in the field Saturday.

The Maxxam will go as the eighth race with a scheduled post of 10:02 p.m. Central. It will share a card with the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff, which drew a strong group of fillies and mares, including multiple stakes winners Plaid, Sweet Idea, and Culinary.

The Maxxam and Distaff are the first stakes to be run at Sam Houston since Texas Champions Day on Dec. 2. The track had offered a variety of overnight stakes for most of December and January.

o There were three winning tickets on a track record 10-cent superfecta payoff of $13,240 last Friday night in the third race at Sam Houston.