05/23/2007 11:00PM

Lady of Venice starts anticipated big year in earnest


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Lady of Venice could be sitting on a big year for Martin Schwartz and trainer Patrick Biancone, and her season will begin to pick up steam on Monday, when she makes her second start of the year in the Grade 3, $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff at Lone Star Park.

The one-mile turf race for fillies and mares will serve her as a stepping-stone to the Grade 2, $1 million CashCall Mile Invitational Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 6.

"It's the last race before the CashCall, and the track at Lone Star is very close to the kind of track we find in California," Biancone said, explaining why he targeted the Ouija Board for the Kentucky-based Lady of Venice.

Lady of Venice comes into the race off a sharp 1 1/8-mile allowance win over the Keeneland turf course on April 22. It was her first start since August, when she finished second to Wait a While in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga.

"She had a good race," said Biancone.

Lady of Venice began her career in her native France, winning 2 of 3 starts there before taking the $109,000 Appalachian at a mile at Keeneland last April, and the Gradeo3 Regret at 1o1/8 miles at Churchill Downs last June. Lady of Venice has made a nice transition physically from age 3 to 4, Biancone said.

Garrett Gomez will be aboard her in the Ouija Board, which was renamed this year in honor of the two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf - at Lone Star Park in 2004 and at Chuchill Downs last year.

Last year, Sweet Talker won the race when it was called the WinStar Distaff, then went on in her next start to finish second in the CashCall.

Lady of Venice could be favored Monday in a projected field of at least eight.

Track officials said they picked up a new player, River's Prayer, on Thursday. In her last start she won the Grade 3 Las Cienegas April 15 at Santa Anita for co-owner and trainer Paula Capestro, and she will be ridden by Clinton Potts.

The Ouija Board is one of three graded stakes on the Lone Star Million Day card here Monday. In all, six stakes worth more than $1omillion are on the card. The other Grade 3 races are the $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup and the $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.

Starter series draws Red Rock Creek

Red Rock Creek, who won all six of his races during last year's meet at Remington Park, returns to Lone Star in the eighth race, a starter handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. He brings depth to an already strong cast that includes Editor's Cat, who won the last race in this starter series, and Scaramouche, who put three straight wins together this winter at Oaklawn Park.

Red Rock Creek has raced once since the Remington meet that closed in November, finishing second in a starter allowance over yielding turf at Fair Grounds on Jan. 4. Trainer Steve Asmussen has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.

Editor's Cat is seeking his fourth straight win. He was a 4 1/4-length winner at this level last time, for trainer Cody Autrey, who has given the mount to Justin Shepherd.

* There are no stakes on Saturday's card. Multiple stakes winners Skip and Go and Goosey Moose head a turf allowance for Texas-breds over 7 1/2 furlongs. Skip and Go is a former Texas-bred horse of the year, while Goosey Moose is the field's highest earner with a bankroll of $383,040.