03/19/2008 11:00PM

Nuttyboom's early zip may be decisive

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A mix of stakes winners that are on the comeback trail, cutting back in distance, or switching surfaces makes the $50,000 Spring Stakes for Texas-breds at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night a handicapping puzzle. The leading contenders appear to be Nuttyboom, who is a candidate to wire the field, and Rain on Monday and Sandburr.

Nuttyboom is one of the few top contenders who has been sprinting on the main track. He showed speed last out at Oaklawn Park, dueling on the lead and finishing fifth in a $50,000 claiming race on Feb. 23. He won the last time he raced at Sam Houston, taking a wide-open allowance by a length over stakes winner Probation Ready on Dec. 31. For that effort, Nuttyboom earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95. Jorge Guzman has the mount for trainer Ralph Irwin.

Rain on Monday will be making his first start in seven weeks. He closed well for fourth in a $75,000 claiming race at Oaklawn at six furlongs in his last start, on Jan. 31. He figures to make good use of the additional ground in the Spring since he is a stakes winner at 6o1/2 furlongs. Jose Figueroa has the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Sandburr is moving back to dirt and cutting back to one turn for the Spring after finishing second by a neck last out in the $50,000 Tomball at Sam Houston. He is an eight-time winner over the local track, and among his victories is the $100,000 Star of Texas at Sam Houston on Dec.o1. Paul Nolan has the mount for trainer Michael Stidham.