03/24/2010 11:00PM

Going Ballistic looks for pace in Maxxam

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There is value to be had in Saturday night's $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park, with no clear-cut favorite among the 10 older horses entered in the meet's premier dirt race. Going Ballistic is the 118-pound highweight in the 1 1/8-mile handicap, while others who will get good support include Red Lead, the lone horse in the field coming off a stakes win; Dumar, who has taken back-to-back overnight races at Fair Grounds; and Fifteen Love, who popped a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 last month for an allowance win at Sam Houston.

"It's a tough race," said Jerenesto Torrez, who trains Fifteen Love.

The Maxxam will share a card with the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff. For fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, the Distaff field includes Diva d'Oro, who has won her last four starts, and Bubbler, a multiple stakes winner for trainer Bret Calhoun.

Red Lead won the $50,000 Curribot at his Sunland Park base on Feb. 14, when he tracked the pace and went on to a two-length win. He was flattered following the 1 1/16-mile race, when runner-up Quiet Again came back in his next start to take a $50,000 sprint stakes at Sunland with a 93 Beyer. As for Red Lead who placed in a handful of derbies last year at 3, the Curribot win suggested that he will be a nice fit in the region's handicap ranks.

"He really stepped up to the plate," said Chris Hartman, who trains Red Lead for Frontier Stables.

"I think he's up for a real good performance Saturday. The horse is doing well."

Ken Tohill has the mount on Red Lead.

Going Ballistic, a millionaire, invades from Oaklawn.

"The mile and an eighth on the dirt, that's kind of his lick," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Going Ballistic and his entrymate, Numismatist, for Kindred Thoroughbreds.

Going Ballistic won the Grade 2 Super Derby and the Oklahoma Derby at 1 1/8 miles. He comes into the Maxxam off a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Cup Turf at Sam Houston on Jan. 30. The race offered little in the way of honest fractions for the late-running Going Ballistic, and Von Hemel on Thursday morning was assessing the pace of the Maxxam.

"I'm always hoping for more," he said.

Mad Flatter should be prominent from the rail, while a couple of horses stretching out from a mile could push things along. Fifteen Love might be a nice option as he can be closer to the pace than Going Ballistic and he owns the field's best last-race Beyer. In the Sam Houston allowance, he rallied from next to last in the one-mile race and now picks up more ground for what will be his third start since September.

"I don't think distance is going to hurt the horse," Torrez said. "He'll probably rate a little bit. We'll keep him close to the leaders if possible.

Fifteen Love, who last year was based in Southern California, was a private purchase by Jose Luis Espinoza and was sent to Texas. He was stakes-placed at Hollywood Park.

"He's a real classy horse," Torrez said.

Junior Chacaltana has the mount for the sidelined Jorge Guzman.

Bubbler looks versatile in Distaff

Bubbler, who won the $100,000 Gallery Furniture Distaff at Sam Houston in December, returns to the track for the first time since that score for the Sam Houston Distaff. She will break from post 8, under Eddie Martin Jr.

"I think she's versatile," Calhoun said. "She's plenty fast enough to go to the front, and she's smart enough to sit off of it."

Also in the field is Diva d'Oro, who is seeking her fifth straight win in a streak dating back to an October maiden score at Retama Park. Paul Nolan has the mount for trainer Danny Pish.