05/26/2008 11:00PM

Little horse with big heart


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Church Service is a $50,000 claim who is going places. He indicated it two starts ago, when he finished second by a nose in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita. He reiterated it on Monday, when he got up for a nose win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park.

"This was a big race for him," said Mike Mitchell, who trains Church Service for Robert Tjosvold. "The pace was so slow, I didn't know if he could do it."

Tjosvold and Mitchell would like to see Church Service develop into a candidate for the new $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon, a 1 1/2-mile race to be run Oct. 25 on the Santa Anita synthetic surface that the horse handled so well in the Tokyo City. Mitchell said Church Service could run next in one of two turf races, the Grade 2, $150,000 Sunset BC Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 13, or the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 23.

Tjosvold claimed Church Service in January at Santa Anita, on the advice of Mitchell. Church Service first caught Mitchell's eye winning an overnight race under Brice Blanc, who was reunited with the 5-year-old son of Pulpit for the Dallas Turf Cup.

"I remembered a race a year ago, when Brice rode him," Mitchell said. "He won a [first-level] allowance and really impressed me with his turn of foot."

Church Service does not have a lot of size, his connections said, so he will be managed accordingly. The Dallas Turf Cup was his first start since March 29.

"We've got to space his races," said Tjosvold. "He's a little thing. He's not a big, big horse. But you space him out, I think we've got something here."

Tjosvold, a retired bank president who lives in San Diego, has owned horses for about 20 years. He currently has four horses in training. He and Mitchell have teamed up on several notable claims.

Sunboat, a horse Tjosvold claimed in partnership for $40,000, won last year's Grade 2, $300,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. It was the biggest win as an owner for Tjosvold. Another claim turned graded stakes winner for the connections was Symphony Sid, who after being taken for $50,000 in partnership went on to win the Grade 3 Carleton F. Burke at Santa Anita in October 2006.

Church Service is part of a deep division of older horses Mitchell has in training. Also in the barn is Ever a Friend, the winner of the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile, and Big Booster, who captured the recent Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano.

Storm Military, a two-time Group 1 winner, finished second to Church Service in the Dallas Turf Cup. Trainer Bobby Frankel said next-race plans for Storm Military have not been determined, but that he would ship back to Southern California. The horse had previously raced at Keeneland.

Plans pending for Giant Gizmo

Frankel sent out Giant Gizmo to win his third straight race in the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, which was the richest of six stakes run here Monday. Frankel trains the horse for Stronach Stables, and said next-race plans are to be determined for Giant Gizmo. He won by two lengths over Zanjero, following victories in the Grade 3 Alysheba at Churchill Downs in May, and a $100,000 optional claiming race at Santa Anita in February.

"He's an improving horse," said Frankel. "I thought he ran a good race. He did what he had to do. He was laying three wide the whole way and he kicked clear when he turned for home.

"I haven't really made any plans for him. There's a lot of options for him on the East Coast and West Coast, but I haven't made any plans right now."

Frankel said Monday night he was determining whether the 4-year-old Giant Gizmo would be flown back to New York, where he shipped in from, or head to California.

Zanjero, who was making his second start of the year in the Lone Star, will head back to Kentucky, said his trainer, Steve Asmussen. His next start is to be determined, according to Asmussen.

Bullfight one to catch in sprint

Bullfight will take some catching in the featured eighth race Thursday night if he gets the jump on Road Work in the first-level allowance at six furlongs. Road Work is backing up in distance off a front-running win at seven furlongs, while Bullfight was a wire-to-wire winner at Thursday's distance in his last start May 11. Bret Calhoun trains Bullfight for Clarence Scharbauer Jr., and has given the mount to Bobby Walker Jr.

* Lone Star had an ontrack crowd of 15,334 on Monday, when the six stakes worth $1.1 million accounted for the richest day of racing in Texas. Handle on the entire 11-race program was $3,354,915. Of that amount, $2.3 million was bet on the races offtrack, while $969,095 was wagered on the card onsite at Lone Star.