06/07/2001 11:00PM

Heat doesn't melt Highland Ice


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Highland Ice is hot blooded. Give him 100 degrees on raceday, and he will give you a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure. A front-running 8-year-old gelding who does his best running when the temperatures are high, Highland Ice will be hoping the 90-degree heat forecast for Sunday materializes when he makes his first start since February in a six-furlong allowance race at Lone Star Park.

"This is his time of year right now," said Chuck Turco, who trains Highland Ice, a stakes winner of $473,160. "When you get to the summer months is when he always runs his best. He's never run good when it's cold."

Turco isn't sure why hot weather suits Highland Ice, but he has a good guess.

"I think that with his age and the problems he's had in the past, [knee and ankle surgery], it's caused him to be a bit arthritic sometimes," Turco said, "and when it's real cold out he never really loosens up good.

"He ran one of his biggest Beyers when it was 110 degrees one day in Oklahoma. He went down there in 1:08 and change."

Highland Ice faces five others Sunday, including stakes winners Lights on Broadway and Texas Code. Turco looks for Highland Ice to bounce back from his eighth-place finish in his last start, when he ran against allowance foes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 22.

"The track was a little deep that day and the race was overloaded with speed, and he just gave it up," Turco said.

Turco is hopeful Highland Ice, who has never raced at Lone Star, will handle the local surface better. "This track is fast and solid, and he's trained good over it," Turco said. "I think it will be interesting to see how he handles this racetrack because when he handles a racetrack, he can be pretty dominating, even at his age."

The track Highland Ice gets over best is Remington Park in Oklahoma City, where 15 of his 16 career wins have come. He will be pointed to the track's $50,000 Lazy E Sprint on Oct. 21. Glen Murphy, who has been aboard Highland Ice for three of his four wins in the Lazy E Sprint, will ride him for the first time since 1999 on Sunday.

Cliff Berry has the mount on Lights on Broadway, who in his last start was third in the $50,000 Carter McGregor Stakes, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Triple Card, who set a track record for six furlongs when he won the race in 1:08.06.

Asmussen dominates trials

Leading trainer Steve Asmussen qualified nine horses for the two divisions of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity. The trials were run Wednesday and Thursday night at Lone Star, with the finales, each worth an estimated $150,000, set for June 30.

Asmussen qualified five fillies: Wild Gear, the Manor Downs Futurity winner who remained undefeated in four starts when she won her trial; She's Rite on Time, who won her trial; and Smoke Buster, Friona, and Charm the Angels. His colts are trial winner Faxamillion, and Wild Willow, Claydiff, and Mr. Campbell Sir.

Despite all the qualifiers, one of Asmussen's best 2-year-olds might still be in the barn. The trainer is developing Point Gained, a half-sister to Preakness winner Point Given by Hennessy. She is owned by The Thoroughbred Corp., which also owns Point Given.