06/02/2005 11:00PM

Nightmare Affair a go, turf or dirt

Email

MIAMI - Nightmare Affair has never won a race on the turf, but the 4-year-old is in such good form that trainer Manny Azpurua is confident he will win Sunday's Blazing Sword whether the overnight stakes is run on the grass as planned or transferred to dirt.

Nightmare Affair has made just four of his previous 27 career starts on grass, with his best showing a second-place finish under third-level allowance conditions here last fall. Nightmare Affair, a son of Out of Place, will enter the Blazing Sword off a pair of six-furlong stakes wins on dirt, having captured Tampa's Sprint Stakes on April 9 and the Ponche Handicap here three weeks later.

"He'll run Sunday, turf or dirt, and it won't make a difference either way," Azpurua said. "As good a shape as he's in right now, he'll win.

"He ran some good races on the grass earlier in his career, but he was not nearly in the form then as he is right now. He's never been better."

Nightmare Affair appears to be at his best going one turn, but Azpurua is not concerned about the 7 1/2-furlong distance of the Blazing Sword, which will be decided around two turns.

"I believe going 7 1/2 furlongs that two turns won't bother him," said Azpurua. "He's run two turns several times earlier in his career and he handled it okay."

Azpurua also said he is hoping to use the Blazing Sword as a prep for Nightmare Affair's next start, which, if all goes well, could come in the Grade 2, $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap here on July 9.

A field of 10 plus six also-eligibles was entered for the Blazing Sword. Final Prophecy and Unbridels King will share high weight of 123 pounds with Nightmare Affair under the allowance conditions of the race.

Final Prophecy is coming off a last-to-first upset victory of the 1 1/16-mile Carterista Handicap on April 30. The win was the first for the 6-year-old since he registered an even more shocking head decision at odds of 57-1 in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup here in December.

Among the other key contenders in the competitive Blazing Sword are Gin Rummy Champ, Quackers Appeal, Cervelo, Hotstufanthensome, and Keep Cool.

Twilight Road points for Mecke

Trainer David Fawkes said Twilight Road came out of his game victory in Monday's Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap in good order and will likely be pointed for the $100,000 Mecke Handicap on turf here on July 9. Twilight Road overcame a tough trip to successfully defend his title in the Memorial Day.

"We toyed with the idea of turning him back to six furlongs and trying the Smile Sprint, but quickly decided it would make more sense to keep him around two turns and go for the Mecke the same day," said Fawkes.

Fashion next goal for Stolen Prayer

Stolen Prayer, a 15-length winner of her career debut here on April 26, will make her next start in Thursday's $75,000 Fashion Stakes at Belmont Park.

Stolen Prayer is trained by his co-breeder and former owner, Eddie Plesa Jr. Plesa sold his interest in the filly to one of his clients, Marion Montanari. Bea Oxenberg and David Mellin retained their shares of the filly.

Plesa also reported that B. B. Best, third-place finisher in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and the Grade 1 Florida Derby, will make his next start in the $200,000 Riva Ridge Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

"It's going to be a tough spot with Lost in the Fog expected," said Plesa. "But that is the race that fits him."

Plesa has a division of 10 horses stabled at Belmont.

Devil's Disciple drills five furlongs

Devil's Disciple, who has not started since finishing second, beaten a neck by Afleet Alex, in last summer's Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 here Friday morning. The work was the second for Devil's Disciple since he returned to training earlier this spring. He is trained by Joe Waunsch.