01/26/2006 1:00AM

'Minstrel' is versatile


Minstrel Runner is an adaptable kind of horse, and that should serve him well Saturday night when he breaks from the rail in the $30,000 Bucharest for 3-year-olds at Sam Houston Race Park.

"If he breaks sharp, we'll get him on out there," said his owner and trainer, Terry Eoff. "If he doesn't, he can come from behind."

Minstrel Runner, a stakes-placed gelding who could go favored over nine others in the six-furlong Bucharest, last raced at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs, finishing an even fifth in the $81,000 Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. That race, also at six furlongs, went in a quick 1:10.80. Minstrel Runner has since drilled a half-mile in a bullet 47.80 seconds at Retama Park on Jan. 14.

"He's coming off a good work," said Eoff. "He's sharp right now. He's real sharp."

Eoff would like to see Minstrel Runner, a son of Anet, use his natural speed to stay out of trouble in the large field. The horse won his maiden wire to wire in September, and one start later raced from off the pace to win an entry-level allowance. Eoff has given the mount to Deirdre Panas.

Herman Muttster could be a late threat to Minstrel Runner. He turns back from one mile for the Bucharest. In the two-turn allowance, Herman Muttster was up for a nose win at Evangeline Downs on Jan. 5. Trainer Michelle Lovell has given the mount to Omar Rodriguez.