06/10/2008 11:00PM

Hark faces Pure Star in allowance

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It was six years ago this week that a Dubai World Cup winner returned to action in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Street Cry proved an easy winner of the 2002 Foster before being retired later that year to what since has proved a successful career at stud.

Friday, the day before Curlin will make his first start since winning the Dubai World Cup by going postward as a heavy choice in the 27th running of the Foster, a daughter of Street Cry will rate as one of the main contenders in the feature race at Churchill. Hark, trained by John T. Ward Jr., will vie for favoritism with Pure Star among a field of eight fillies entered in the 10th of 11 Friday races.

Hark enters off a sharp maiden victory May 10 at Churchill after having been away for nearly seven months. From the first crop of Street Cry, whose progeny include 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Hark "came back bigger and stronger after we turned her out in Aiken last winter," Ward said.

Ward explained that Lynn Carlisle, the breeder and co-owner of Hark, is "new to the business," and with such a rich pedigree - Hark is out of Bal Boree, a Seattle Slew mare - "they've wanted to take their time with her. We've just kind of done it the old way with her. She's picked it up nice, and now we're looking for bigger and better things from her."

Miguel Mena will be aboard Hark when she breaks from posto6 in a $43,100, six-furlong race governed by an entry-level allowance condition.

Pure Star, with Robby Albarado riding from post 1, clearly is the horse to beat, having dominated conditioned claiming company when trainer Ken McPeek dropped her boldly in class for her last start.

Natalicat (post 7) and Baja Morning (post 8) look like the fringe threats.

The 10th race is the only allowance on a Friday card otherwise filled with claiming and maiden races. Clearly, filling the Foster Day card with six stakes and other classy races meant something had to give on other days at Churchill.

Twilight first post is 2:45 p.m. Eastern. Churchill has advertised its happy-hour Fridays heavily in the local market, to an encouraging response, as the ontrack crowd typically includes newcomers and younger fans enjoying the food and drink specials offered from 4-7 p.m.