04/21/2008 11:00PM

The future is now for Monterey Jazz

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The direction of Monterey Jazz's campaign this year will be determined by his performance Saturday in the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park. The race will be a rare start on dirt for him, and his first outside of California.

"This will kind of tell us which way to go," said Craig Dollase, who trains Monterey Jazz for A and R Stables and Class Racing. "The timing's right, and if he runs real well on this dirt track, which we hope he does, we'll come back and run him probably in the Met Mile."

The Texas Mile is the richest of four stakes worth a cumulative $450,000 at Lone Star on Saturday. The races are preps for the Lone Star Million Day program of stakes here May 26.

Monterey Jazz figures to go favored in the Texas Mile. He looks like the controlling speed in a race that is also expected to draw closers Zanjero and Going Ballistic, as well as stalker Beta Capo.

David Flores has the mount on Monterey Jazz, who opened 2008 with a 4 1/2-length win over Tiago in the Grade 2 Strub at Santa Anita on Feb. 2. Monterey Jazz covered the 1 1/8 miles on a synthetic surface in 1:45.60, and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 108.

Before that race, the horse won the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort at a mile on turf at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. Monterey Jazz will move to dirt Saturday after setting the pace and finishing 12th in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 1. The last time he ran on dirt he won a 6 1/2-furlong allowance at Fairplex in September 2007. He will be looking to be the latest Southern California-based horse to make a successful synthetic to dirt move, behind recent Oaklawn graded stakes winners Gayego, Zenyatta, and Tiago.

"We're hoping he's going to handle it just fine," said Dollase. "But I guess you never really know until you actually try. But as far as how these horses, even the 3-year-olds, have been running on synthetic to dirt, it's been a positive move. Hopefully, that will be the case with our guy.

"We're going to see if he can overcome a couple of these obstacles we'll throw at him. It's early enough in the year that we can do that."

Monterey Jazz worked a half-mile in 47.20 seconds Tuesday at Hollywood Park and is scheduled to fly to Lone Star on Thursday.

Force Freeze eyes Hirsch Jacobs

Force Freeze is the speed from the rail in the fifth race Thursday night, a second-level allowance sprint that will serve as his springboard to the Grade 3, $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico on May 17. The horse last raced on April 6, finishing second by a length to Grade 3 winner Lantana Mob in the $50,000 Bachelor for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn.

"He ran real good," said Allen Milligan, who trains Force Freeze. "He's very quick, does everything like a professional. In the gate, he just stands there, looks down the racetrack, and when it's time to go, he goes."

Force Freeze set the pace in the Bachelor, and before that used front-running tactics to win his maiden and a first-level allowance, both at Oaklawn. He will be ridden by Cliff Berry.

Valid Lil retired

Valid Lil has been retired after coming out of her second-place finish in the $50,000 JEH Stallion Station here Saturday with a non-displaced condylar fracture in her right front ankle, according to her trainer, Bret Calhoun. She had surgery on Sunday.

"Her racing career's over, but she came out of surgery very well and I think she'll be a fantastic broodmare," he said.

Calhoun said Valid Lil, 5, would be bred next year. She finished second by a neck in the JEH. Last year, she won the $45,000 New Braunfels at Retama and the $50,000 Ada at Remington for Circustown Stables.

"She was right there every trip," said Calhoun. "At one time, she was 7 out of 8."