04/22/2010 12:00AM

Hard to rank Texas Mile contenders


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The best handicapping puzzle in the nation might be at Lone Star Park on Saturday.

Little separates the eight older horses who will make up the field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile. The pace is also a tough read, and the trainers of top contenders Mythical Power, Euroears, and Jonesboro feel their horses are peaking for the race.

The Texas Mile anchors the first major card of the meet. There are three stakes on the program. Bubbler will take on three Southern California invaders as well as defending champ Hotlantic in the $50,000 Irving Distaff. Fifteen Love would be the horse to beat in the $50,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge, but his connections Thursday were leaning toward running him in the Texas Mile.

Mythical Power will get good support in the main event because of his seven-length romp in last year's Grade 3 Lone Star Derby. He has raced three times since, his most recent start a troubled fifth-place finish in a second-level allowance at Santa Anita on Feb. 10.

"We had this race mapped out for a while," said Bob Baffert, who trains Mythical Power for Peachtree Stable. "It's where he last won, so why not?

"He's doing really well. I think his last few works, he's coming back around like the old horse from last year."

Mythical Power has been racing on synthetic surfaces since his Lone Star Derby win, for which he earned a career-high Beyer of 101. The race was his second on dirt, following a runner-up finish in last year's Sunland Derby, which produced Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Mythical Power will break from post 2 under Martin Garcia.

Euroears, a multiple-stakes-winning sprinter, got the green light for the Texas Mile after a strong work at Churchill Downs on April 16. In preparation for what will be his first two-turn start, he breezed five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on the end of a two-minute-mile pacing drill.

"It was our test to see if we come here or not, and he passed the test," said Bret Calhoun, who trains Euroears.

Euroears looks like the dominant speed in the Texas Mile, which drew its share of two-turn front-runners. Another is Harlan Street, a winner of his last six starts, most recently a pair of allowance sprint wins this year at Mountaineer Park.

Euroears, who will break from post 3 under Jamie Theriot, figures to be prominent early.

"I'm sure he's going to be up in the race, but he's not a horse that has to be on the lead," Calhoun said. "I think he's a little bit more settled than he was earlier in his career."

Jonesboro became a millionaire when he won last year's Texas Mile, which came one start after a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. He follows that same cycle into this year's race, having finished third after dueling for the lead in the April 3 renewal of the Oaklawn.

"He ran a good race," said Randy Morse, who trains Jonesboro. "The way he was hooked and as fast as they went, he didn't throw in the towel down the lane. He fought on."

Cliff Berry has the mount from the rail.

Star Guitar, a multiple stakes winner against Louisiana-breds, comes into the Texas Mile off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at 1 1/8 miles March 27.

"He ran fine," said Al Stall, who trains Star Guitar. "He may not stay that trip against the top horses. His mother was a sprinter and his grandsire, Malagra, seemed to sprint. Against better horses, he might not stay. This might be an ideal distance."

Star Guitar won the $150,000 Evangeline Mile against open company last August, with a Beyer of 101.