05/29/2009 12:00AM

Luster going extra furlong in Dogwood


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Al Stall Jr. won the race after the Kentucky Derby this year with a filly named Luster, giving the veteran trainer a nifty bookend to match his victory from 11 years ago in the race prior to the Derby, the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, with Joyeux Danseur.

Not to imply that Stall has the Derby surrounded, but if he keeps training for such high-profile clients, he just might get there someday. Joyeux Danseur was owned by B. Wayne Hughes, while Luster is owned by the partnership of Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

Luster, a romping front-running winner of an entry-level allowance an hour or so after the May 2 Derby at Churchill Downs, has resurfaced as one of the favorites in the Dogwood Stakes, the first of two Grade 3, $100,000 stakes on the Saturday card at Churchill. The one-mile Dogwood represents the farthest distance attempted so far by Luster.

"She's had two seven-furlong races in a row," said Stall, 47. "She came from off the pace at Keeneland, and she was drawing off from that bunch here the other day. She's by Touch Gold out of a Pulpit mare, so her pedigree's a plus. She is kind of speedy, but she's a smart horse and this is a one-turn race, so I don't think the extra furlong should be a problem. I'm looking forward to running her."

Luster, with Jamie Theriot to ride, is one of nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the Dogwood, which goes as the eighth of 11 races. Lady's Laughter, who defeated Luster in a key April 4 allowance over the Keeneland Polytrack, is among the primary opposition, while other viable possibilities include Hightap, Tweeter, and Perfect for You.

Lady's Laughter will add blinkers Saturday after fading to fourth in her latest start, the Grade 3 Eight Belles on the Derby undercard. Hightap looks dangerous off a brief layoff after being impressive at Fair Grounds over the winter. Tweeter will be trying to rebound from a 51-length drubbing in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks. And Perfect for You enters off back-to-back victories as the most recently improved filly in the field.

This is the 35th Dogwood, which has been run at various distances since My Juliet won the 1975 inaugural at seven furlongs. Acoma, with Robby Albarado riding for David Carroll, won the 2008 running.

:: King: (DRF Plus)