03/05/2008 12:00AM

Jonesboro set for top effort in Razorback

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Jonesboro appears to be sitting on a peak effort heading into the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. He worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.60 seconds in his final prep for the 1 1/16-mile race, which will be the third start of his form cycle.

Jonesboro won the $72,000 Sam's Town at Delta Downs on Dec. 7, then was second by a length in the $100,000 Essex Handicap here Feb. 9. He will also will be racing over one of his favorite surfaces - Jonesboro is 3 for 8 at Oaklawn - and will be reuniting with Calvin Borel, who has been aboard for his richest wins.

"I look for him to run a big race," said Randy Morse, who trains Jonesboro for Michael Langford.

For years, Jonesboro, a 6-year-old out of champion racemare Mom's Command, has been one of the more consistent handicap runners in the Midwest. His biggest win came last year in the Grade 3 Essex. He also finished second to Student Council in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup. Jonesboro, an earner of $604,915, was third in last year's Razorback, and fourth in both the Grade 1 Stephen Foster and Grade 2 Cornhusker.

At one point in his career, however, being a player in the handicap ranks was in doubt. Jonesboro had thrilled his connections at 3 when he won the $75,000 Northern Spur on the Arkansas Derby undercard in 2005. But joy turned to disappointment soon after the race when it was discovered the horse had fractured his right front cannon bone.

Morse said what happened next played a key role in Jonesboro's career longevity. A plane that happened to be in town to bring Arkansas Derby horses back to Kentucky was available to transport the injured Jonesboro.

"To me, that was the savior of that horse, that plane being there," Morse said. "We got him right up there to Lexington, and got him operated on. It had to help. If we had to put him on a van, with that severe an injury for that long a haul . . ."

Jonesboro made his comeback in January 2006, and won an allowance sprint. But in March of that year he was sidelined again when the fracture spread a little bit, said Morse. However, time off was all that was prescribed, and Jonesboro won his second comeback, in an allowance sprint, in August 2006. From there, he has attacked the handicap ranks and put up five triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.

"Since that happened the second time, knock on wood, we've been very lucky," said Morse. "He hasn't had anything really hindering him any from that point.

"That's what's good about Mike," Morse added about Langford. "A lot of owners press you to hurry one, and Mike let me do what we needed to. It's a big help. This horse, he's 6 years old now, and, believe me, there's no reason, barring anything happening, that he won't race for another year or two."

The immediate order of business is the Razorback, and Morse laid out the race in simple terms to Jonesboro while feeding him peppermints last Sunday.

"We need to win so we can buy more candy," Morse joked.

Langford and Morse have Jonesboro's full sister Tri Delt Girl in Friday's eighth race. Others in the $40,000 optional claiming sprint for fillies and mares include Adore You, who won the $72,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper last August.

Liberty Bull may ship to Sunland

Liberty Bull, who won the inaugural $50,000 Smarty Jones here Jan. 21, is being considered for the $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park, said his trainer, Tom Amoss. The 1 1/8-mile race will be run on March 16. Amoss said he would also look at the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 12 for Liberty Bull.

The horse last raced here, finishing in a dead heat for third in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18. In his other stakes start, Liberty Bull was second in the $100,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds in December.

Horses arrive from California

Hystericalady and Racketeer touched down early Wednesday afternoon after flying in from Southern California. Their flight was delayed a day because of a mechanical issue with the plane. Hystericalady is here for the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup on Sunday, while Racketeer is to run in the Razorback.