06/06/2012 1:53PM

Lone Star: Turf sprint may produce starters for dirt stakes at Evangeline


A turf sprint Friday night at Lone Star Park could produce two leading contenders for an upcoming dirt stakes at Evangeline Downs.

My Star Runner and Tortuga Straits, a pair of Louisiana-breds who have won 11 stakes races between them, could advance to the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Sprint at Evangeline on June 30 depending on their performance in the seventh race at Lone Star.

The horses will meet in an optional $25,000 claiming race at five furlongs on turf, a surface neither prefers but one over which both have proven capable. The pair have landed on the grass for much the same reason: It’s an option at the right time. Tortuga Straits will break from post 5 in what will be his first start since February.

“We haven’t been able to get him in [on dirt], so we just decided we needed to run,” said Ralph Irwin, who trains Tortuga Straits for Karla Balensiefen. “We’ve had him ready, and everything we’ve pointed towards didn’t work.

“We never had to run him on the turf hardly at all, and when he did he handled it pretty good at Louisiana Downs. This is an option and we’re going to take it and see what happens.”

My Star Runner breaks from post 10.

“The horse is doing really well and we were looking for a spot,” said Cody Autrey, who trains My Star Runner for Charles Fletcher. “We’re obviously hoping it rains off the grass. He can run on turf, but I think he’s better on the dirt and we’re hoping to get to race on the dirt.”

Forecasters at weather.com are calling for a 50 percent chance of rain for Friday.

My Star Runner, who has won four stakes, is a winner on turf from three starts on the surface. Tortuga Straits, who is a seven-time stakes winner, has 2 seconds from 7 career starts on the grass. Others making up the field include turf sprint specialist Uno Ducksy.