05/27/2009 12:00AM

Nicks has strong hand for turf stakes


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Seaspeak stepped up and became a graded winner with an impressive effort Monday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park, giving trainer Ralph Nicks a second horse of quality in this year's turf division. Nicks also trains El Caballo, who missed by a nose in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz at Fair Grounds in March.

"Hopefully, we're going to have a good summer and fall," Nicks said.

Seaspeak, a 4-year-old, made his second start against older horses in the Dallas Turf Cup. He stalked the pace in the 1 1/8-mile race and cruised home by 4 1/2 lengths to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 95. Seaspeak came into the Dallas Turf Cup off a dominant allowance win at Churchill Downs in his first start of the year on April 29.

"I think he's off to the right start," Nicks said of the strong race Monday. "The nice part is he relaxed down the backside. He was a little keen in his first start back, this time, going further, slow fractions, and he turned off."

Jockey Julien Leparoux, who rode Seaspeak for the first time in the Dallas Turf Cup, said: "He's a very nice horse. I think he's going to keep going."

Nicks said Seaspeak, who returned to his Churchill base Wednesday, could make his next start at Arlington Park. He said the horse is under consideration for the Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf July 11.

Nicks also is in the midst of plotting the next stop for El Caballo and is looking at the Grade 1, $400,000 Manhattan at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Belmont Park on June 6 or the $200,000 Monmouth at 1 1/8 miles on turf June 13 at Monmouth Park.

Sweet Relish eyes Iowa Oaks

Sweet Relish, who made a commanding move to the lead before going on to a one-length win in Monday's $100,000 Cinemine, is being considered for a start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Iowa Oaks, trainer Donnie Von Hemel said. The 1 1/16-mile race will be held June 26 at Prairie Meadows.

Sweet Relish made her stakes debut in the Cinemine, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds that was won last year by Storm Mesa, who went on in her next start to win the Iowa Oaks. Sweet Relish came into the race off a sharp allowance win over fillies and mares this past spring at Oaklawn Park.

"She's got the size and scope and ability," Von Hemel said of Sweet Relish. "She's a Smoke Glacken, and I just wonder how far she'll go, but I think she's a pretty high-quality filly."

The Iowa Oaks would be the first two-turn test for Sweet Relish, who races for her breeder, Pin Oak Stable. Von Hemel said he also is looking into one-turn stakes options for Sweet Relish, whose sire was a multiple graded-stakes-winning sprinter. She shipped from Lone Star back to her Arlington Park base Wednesday.

Sweet Relish earned a career-best 90 Beyer for her win in the Cinemine. Pin Oak and Von Hemel were third in the race last year with eventual graded stakes winner Euphony, and before that won the Cinemine with another eventual graded winner, Brownie Points.

Cliff Berry rode Sweet Relish in the Cinemine.

* Capitol Limited looks like a solid choice in Friday night's ninth race as he exits the quickest first-level allowance of the Lone Star meet to date. He was second to Hollywood Hit in a six-furlong race that went in 1:08.20 on May 9. Capitol Limited was beaten 7 3/4 lengths and earned a career-best 80 Beyer. Cliff Berry has the mount for trainer Danny Pish in Friday night's first-level allowance sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs. The chief threat appears to be Cheese Factory.