07/06/2007 12:00AM

Mystery Classic learns new trick


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Mystery Classic showed a new dimension Wednesday night when he came from off the pace to win the $50,000 Lone Star Park Sprint. Usually a front-runner, he sat behind three dueling leaders before taking command of the off-the-turf race in the stretch. Eddie Martin Jr. rode the horse in place of regular pilot Bobby Walker Jr.

Walker was scheduled to be aboard, but sustained fractures to his collarbone in a riding accident last week. He had ridden Mystery Classic throughout a six-race win streak last year that included stakes victories at Retama Park and Sam Houston Race Park.

"I was real pleased with him rating and coming off of it," said Bob Schultz, who trains Mystery Classic for John Pierce. "Bobby's been working with the horse in the mornings, when he works him. You're not going to win many races falling out there in the front and going heads-up. I think this gives him a better chance to win more races."

Mystery Classic improved his record to 8 for 13. Schultz is looking at his stakes options with the horse, who is a winner on both dirt and turf. He said one stakes that is being targeted for Mystery Classic is the $45,000 J.R. Straus Memorial at six furlongs at Retama Park on Sept. 29. Before that, Mystery Classic will be considered for the $50,000 Brother Brown at five furlongs on turf at Remington Park on Aug. 5.

Schultz, 73, is in the midst of a solid meet at Lone Star. He has won two stakes, his other score coming in the $50,000 Carter McGregor Jr. Memorial with Toga Too. Overall, from 77 starters at the meet, Schultz has 8 wins, 16 second-place finishes, and 14 third-place finishes. He said the majority of the horses in his 30-horse stable are homebreds. Pierce, in fact, bred Mystery Classic.

Asmussen winning all over

When South Branch Storm overcame trouble to close from seventh and win a maiden special weight race at Lone Star Park on June 30, he gave trainer Steve Asmussen his 37th win in a 2-year-old race in 2007. Asmussen registered win No. 38 a few days later, when Possetothemax won the $50,000 Juvenile at Prairie Meadows. It was the fifth 2-year-old stakes win of the year for Asmussen.

He said his current crop of 2-year-olds is his best ever. Heading into the races Friday, they had accounted for $1,403,259 in earnings in 2007. Aside from Lone Star and Prairie Meadows, Asmussen's juveniles have won races at Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Evangeline Downs, Hollywood Park, Keeneland, and Woodbine.

Asmussen will be seeking another Lone Star 2-year-old win Sunday, when he sends out first-time starter Poni Colada in a 7 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on turf. Poni Colada is a son of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi.

* Super Danny will be shooting for his fifth straight win Sunday when he starts in the sixth race, a first-level allowance over 6 1/2 furlongs. He began his win streak at Sunland Park on March 25. Eddie Martin Jr. has the mount for Asmussen.

* Lone Star drew a crowd of 25,040 for fireworks and racing on a wet Fourth of July night Wednesday. The crowd was the largest at the track since the 53,717 that attended the 2004 Breeders' Cup at Lone Star. The track also had fireworks Tuesday night, and for the two days drew 41,087 patrons, up from 38,353 on the comparable dates in 2006.