05/06/2002 12:00AM

An old-fashioned Texas grudge match shaping up


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Saturday's Grade 3 Lone Star Derby could turn into something of a grudge match as Danthebluegrassman and Windward Passage may go head to head int he 1 1/8-mile race.

Danthebluegrassman's last-minute entry in the Kentucky Derby last week knocked Windward Passage from the field, which is limited to 20 horses based on graded earnings. Danthebluegrassman was later scratched from the race after being treated for muscle cramps.

Bob Baffert, who trains Danthebluegrassman, winner of the Grade 3 Golden Gate Derby, said he will make a decision on the $500,000 Lone Star Derby after he breezes the colt Tuesday. "Right now, it looks good," he said Monday of shipping to Lone Star.

Baffert, who won the inaugural Lone Star Derby with Anet, scratched Danthebluegrassman from the Kentucky Derby after he tied up the morning of the race. "It wasn't bad, and we got on it right away," said the trainer, who was pleased with the colt's health Monday.

Baffert hopes to have Jorge Chavez ride Danthebluegrassman in the Lone Star Derby.

Windward Passage, who had been pointing for the Kentucky Derby after finishing in a dead heat for third in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby, worked four furlongs at Churchill Downs on Monday.

"We're coming," said Barry Irwin, president of the Team Valor syndicate that owns Windward Passage. "He breezed a half in 49 this morning at Churchill, and will hop on a plane Wednesday. He's sharp as a tack."

Irwin said Donnie Meche would ride Windward Passage, winner of the Grade 3 Rebel earlier this season at Oaklawn. Windward Passage is trained by Steve Asmussen.

A full field is possible for the Lone Star Derby, which will be limited to 14 starters based on earnings. According to officials, the probables are Tracemark, the California Derby winner to be ridden by Alex Solis; California Derby runner-up Cappuchino, Rene Douglas; Peekskill, Corey Lanerie; Federico Tesio winner Smoked Em, Chris McCarron; Bay Monster, Anthony Lovato; Holdthehelm, Kent Desormeaux; and Northern Spur winner Screen Idol, Marlon St. Julien.

Also under consideration for the race are Sam Houston Texan Juvenile winner Jeremiah Jack, Premeditation, Forty Nine Deeds, Wisemen's Ferry, Like a Hero, Puck, Padlock, and Dazzlingpersonality.

Turf may be in Beau's Town future

Beau's Town, who won his sixth straight race Saturday, the $75,000 Ford Express Stakes, will work on turf in the near future. If he handles the surface, he could make his next start in the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint on May 27.

"If he looks okay on the grass, he'd be possible for the Beck Auto," said Dave Hulkewicz, co-owner of Beau's Town.

Hulkewicz said Beau's Town, a gelding trained by Cole Norman, is also under consideration for the $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder on July 13.

Track record set

Norman won the prep for the Beck Auto on Sunday with Joyful Tune. Overnight rains forced the race to be run on the main track, but the surface switch did not bother Joyful Tune, who shattered the track record for five furlongs when he won the race over a good track in 56.25 seconds.

The old record was 57.42 seconds set in 1999 by Angel's Tearlet.

"I think if I'd blinked, I'd've missed him," Norman said of Joyful Tune, one of 11 winners he had this week at Lone Star.

Big week for big guns

Anthony Lovato, who rode both Joyful Tune and Beau's Town, won 13 races this week to top the standings with 23 wins. Roman Chapa and Corey Lanerie are tied in second with 17.

In the trainer race, Steve Asmussen leads runner-up Norman, 22 wins to 19. Together, the trainers combined to win 16 of the 48 races run last week at Lone Star.