02/14/2007 12:00AM

Jonesboro, Semaphore Man assume command


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - There are clear-cut leaders in Oaklawn's handicap and sprint divisions after Jonesboro and Semaphore Man turned in dominant performances in separate stakes last weekend. Each earned a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure.

Jonesboro registered a career-best Beyer of 102 for his 5o3/4-length win in the Grade 3, $100,000 Essex Handicap last Saturday, while Semaphore Man earned his second-highest career Beyer, a 103, for his 3 1/2-length win in the six-furlong, $50,000 King Cotton last Friday.

Jonesboro, a 5-year-old horse out of Mom's Command, has put it all together in the past few months for owner Michael Langford and trainer Randy Morse. He won the $100,000 Sam's Town by 7 1/4 lengths at Delta Downs on Dec. 1, then ran second by three-quarters of a length in the $75,000 Louisiana Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds on Jan. 6. Following that race, Jonesboro worked a sparkling five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at Oaklawn. He then led throughout in the Essex.

"I thought it was probably the best race he's ever run," Morse said. "That's the way he's trained. He's never really run the way he's trained.

"He was an immature horse, is what it was. He's just now growing up. I've always been told that a horse doesn't mature until they're 5, anyway. Very few of them get to make it that far anymore. "

Jonesboro is the only stakes winner produced by Mom's Command, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1985 who died earlier this month. Morse said he will now be pointed for the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup here March 9.

"He came back unbelievably well," said Morse. "He thinks he's King Kong down there at the barn. He's getting a lot of confidence."

Semaphore Man led throughout in the King Cotton under Tim Doocy in what was his first start since July.

"He really ran a big race," said his trainer, Kelly Von Hemel. "He had his ears pricked. He was just sitting there waiting for Tim to tell him to go. That was a tough field, and for him to run like he did, we were pretty proud of him."

Von Hemel said the meet objective for Semaphore Man is the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 13. He and owners Double Bogey Stable are determining the best route to get to that race. The next sprint stakes at Oaklawn, the $50,000 Hot Springs, is not until March 24.

"The races here are spread out, so we've got to make a decision whether we want to try to ship somewhere or wait," said Von Hemel.

Pegasus Wind out of Southwest

Pegasus Wind had been one of the top locals being considered for the $250,000 Southwest here Monday, but will not make the race, his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, said Wednesday. Pegasus Wind was third in last year's Grade 1 Champagne, and in his lone start this year finished seventh in a six-furlong allowance at Oaklawn.

"He came up with an ankle out of his allowance race, and so we're going to just back up on him a little bit," he said.

For the Southwest, Lukas said he plans to start Starbase, an allowance winner at the meet who last year was third in the Grade 3 Iroquois. Lukas's other 3-year-olds at Oaklawn that could see stakes action soon include Storm Force, who won his second straight race here last Friday. From the same mare as Grade 2 winner Boston Common, he is being considered for the $50,000 Mountain Valley for 3-year-olds at six furlongs here March 24.

"We're looking at it, but I might stretch him out a little bit, too," said Lukas. "He's a possibility for that, though. That's a logical spot. I mean, it fits him and everything. He ran the fastest six furlongs for a 3-year-old here [this meet], so he's a possibility there."

Storm Force won an optional claimer by four lengths in 1:10.80. Prior to that race, he won his maiden by a neck at Oaklawn.

Westwon, another promising 3-year-old for Lukas, ran sixth last out in the Grade 3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Last year, he won a key maiden race at Keeneland.

"I'm thinking of pointing him for the Lane's End," Lukas said of the Grade 2, $500,000 race at Turfway Park on March 24.

Southwest field still growing

The field for the Southwest is growing from its six early probables to a possible field of 10. Trainer Chris Richard said I Got a Dream, a stakes winner, is a definite and will be ridden by Eddie Razo Jr. Officials are also expecting Our Sacred Honor, an allowance winner for trainer Todd Pletcher, and Sumac, a stakes-placed runner for trainer John Hall.

Teuflesberg, winner of the $75,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds, is being considered for the race, said his trainer, Jamie Sanders. She said a decision was to be made on Thursday. The other probables are Forty Grams, Going Ballistic, Hard Spun, Officer Rocket, Starbase, and Xchanger.

* Amandatude, the runner-up in the Grade 2 Cotillion at Philadelphia Park in October, will take on multiple stakes winner A Classic Life in the seventh race on Friday, a one-mile optional claimer for fillies and mares. Mt. Splendor seeks his third straight win in the ninth.