11/14/2002 1:00AM

Iwinski ships 'Straw' farther than usual


Allen Iwinski routinely ships up and down the East Coast trying to find the right spots for his horses. But this time he has taken things to the extreme.

Saturday, Big Broken Straw will be Iwinski's first starter - and perhaps his first winner - in Texas when he runs in the $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes, one of nine stakes on the Texas Champions Day card at Sam Houston.

"We had been getting phone calls from people interested in buying him the last two years about this time, and the owners did some investigating and found out about a couple of big stakes there for him that it looked like he could be very competitive in," Iwinski said. "So we decided to go down and try him ourselves."

Big Broken Straw comes into the Star of Texas, a 1 1/16-mile race for statebreds, on the heels of a four-length win in a two-other-than allowance going a mile at Delaware Park. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in that race, the top last-race rating among all of his rivals Saturday.

Big Broken Straw shipped into Sam Houston last week to prepare for his stakes debut.

"He seems to have shipped down there very well," Iwinski said. "I think he'll be very competitive. He's a nice, big chestnut gelding who feels good all the time, and he has a versatile running style."

Prepping for the Challenge

Texas Champions Day, which in the past has been held during the first week in December, was moved back on the calendar this year in order to give horses competing Saturday night a chance to return in the inaugural Great State Challenge at Sam Houston on Dec. 7.

The Challenge features six divisional races that will match statebreds from around the country against each other. Each stakes is worth $275,000.

Texas representatives are determined through a points system, and the winners of the statebred races on Texas Champions Day will get double points toward their divisional rankings in Texas, which can help them score an invite to the Great State Challenge.

Among those on the Saturday night card looking toward the Great State Challenge are Leo's Last Hurrahy, Desert Darby, Lights on Broadway, Coastalota, and Kentucky-bred Zydeco Affair, who runs in the $150,000 Texan Juvenile, an open stakes.

* Sam Houston introduces two pick four wagers Saturday. The pick fours will begin on the second and seventh races and will continue throughout the meeting.