05/22/2003 11:00PM

Lone Star 'Cap just a start for Pass Rush

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Pass Rush flew into Texas Friday and will start as one of the chief threats to Bluesthestandard in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap here Monday.

With a good performance in the race, Pass Rush could advance to the Grade 1, $750,000 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs June 14.

But the first order of business is the Lone Star, said Patrick Byrne, who trains Pass Rush. The 1 1/16-mile race is the richest of seven stakes races on a card called Lone Star Million Day. The races are worth a cumulative $1 million.

Pass Rush, to be ridden by Pat Day, arrived from Kentucky aboard a flight carrying Lone Star Sky for the $200,000 USA Stakes, and Morluc, No Jacket Required, and Take Achance on Me for the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf.

Bluesthestandard will fly in from California Saturday.

Pass Rush returned from a three-month layoff last out in the Grade 2, $200,000 Churchill Downs Handicap May 3. In that seven-furlong race he finished second, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Aldebaran, the probable second choice to Congaree in Monday's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont.

"I thought he ran a good race," said Byrne, who trains Pass Rush for owner Michael Tabor. "He's a much stronger horse this year. He's developed from his 3-year-old year."

Pass Rush, who won the Ben Harrison at Hoosier Park last year last year, has had three starts this year. He won the Grade 2, $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup by 3 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita Jan. 11. A month later, he returned to Santa Anita and finished fifth behind romping winner Medaglia d'Oro in the Grade 2 Strub.

Both of those races were at two turns.

"He came out of the [Strub] a little sick, so we just freshened him up," Byrne said.

The trainer hopes for a stalking trip in the Lone Star. He also said if the thunderstorms forecast for the weekend materialize and the track ends up wet, it would benefit Pass Rush.

"He loves it muddy," Byrne said.

The Lone Star picked up a new player Friday when trainer Mark Lee committed Dusty Spike. In his last start, Dusty Spike won the $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner at 1 1/16 miles at Fonner Park.

Lee decided to go in the Lone Star after learning the field was not expected to be too large, with seven horses probable as of Thursday.

"He's a closer, and they can have difficulty getting through lots of traffic," said Lee, who has given the mount to Kerry Kretzer.

A great state challenge

It's not every day a Georgia-bred and Indiana-bred vie for favoritism in a major stakes race. But that will be the case in the Lone Star, with Bluesthestandard, who was bred in Georgia, and Pass Rush, who was bred in Indiana, likely to get plenty of support.

Bluesthestandard, a winner of 14 races from 21 starts, is one of the best Georgia-breds since millionaire Vivace, who raced in the late 1990's. He is by American Standard and was bred by Terry Brown.

Pass Rush is a son of Crown Ambassador and was bred by Swifty Farms.

Adding depth to the battle of states in the Lone Star is Private Emblem, a Grade 2 winner bred in New York.

In another breeding twist, Lone Star starter Maysville Slew is a half-brother to the dam of Cherylville Slew, who will run on the undercard Monday in the Grade 3, $200,000 WinStar Distaff. Both horses are trained by C.R. Trout.

Bluesthestandard on film

A two-man film crew of Dale Morretino and his wife, Lee Ann, are documenting the career of Bluesthestandard in a home movie of sorts. The California couple spends their free time filming, and they would like to see it air on either TVG or HRTV.

The Morretinos became fans of Bluesthestandard when he was racing for a claiming price of $12,500 in December of 2001. He has gone on to win two graded stakes races.

"We noticed Blues in his third start from a handicapping point of view, started photographing him by his fifth start, and were taping him by his sixth start," said Dale Morretino. "By his eighth start, we knew we had something."

Morretino has interviewed on camera several people associated with Bluesthestandard. He and his wife have a 2-year-old in training at Santa Anita, and plan to travel to Texas for Million Day.

Another golden claim for West?

Earlier this month trainer Ted H. West, who has guided $50,000 claim Bluesthestandard to two graded stakes wins, claimed 16-time winner Islander on behalf of his mother, Mary Ellen West, specifically for the Beck.

West claimed the horse for $50,000 in February, and won two turf sprints with him before losing him for $62,500 April 17. He jumped back in the claim box when Islander became available for $80,000 May 1.

"We probably wouldn't have claimed him back if this race had not been available," West said.

Islander blew out three furlongs for the Beck on Friday, and will be ridden by Martin Pedroza.

* Cauy could be favored Sunday in the featured seventh race, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares worth $42,500. The race is a prep for the $50,000 Miller Lite June 14.

Cauy defeated a handful of her Saturday rivals when she won a money allowance race in wire-to-wire fashion under rider Kirk LeBlanc.

"She was pretty impressive," said Bret Calhoun, who trains Cauy. "There were some nice horses in there."