04/12/2010 11:00PM

Older runners get Calhoun off to quick start


If trainer Bret Calhoun is not careful, he might just alter his reputation. The 45-year-old, regarded early in his career as a trainer of 2-year-olds, proved this past week at Lone Star Park, as he has all year, that he can win with any kind of horse, even with veteran runners competing against horses half their age.

Last Thursday, opening night of the Lone Star meet, the Calhoun-trained Orphan Brigade, a three-time stakes winner who is now 9, ran like a fleet-footed 3-year-old. Orphan Brigade won an optional claiming race by 8 3/4 lengths, the 23rd win in his 77-race career. He completed six furlongs in 1:09.38, earning a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

Then on Saturday, Calhoun followed that up when 11-year-old King of Speed, who he calls the barn favorite, won a starter allowance on turf, recording his 26th victory in his 105th start and posting an 86 Beyer.

Speaking by telephone from his Lone Star base Tuesday morning, Calhoun noted how trainers, get typecast as being good with a particular kind of horse, but not another.

"You might win in some categories, and they'll knock you for what you do in other categories," he said. "And when I didn't have any horses to train, some thought I was too small. And now it's too many. People's minds just get in a certain place about you."

As for his success with older runners, Calhoun said that if he does anything differently with them, it is with regard to placement.

"You've got to keep then in spots where they can win and keep their confidence up," he said.

Those that followed Calhoun's horses opening week found nearly all his horses to be in spots where they could win, to such an extent, in fact, that Calhoun won 9 of 14 races to dart out to a clear lead in the trainer standings.

That included a victory by 3-year-old Coyote Legend in the first race of the meet, the $50,000 Premiere Stakes, a win that set the tone for what was to come.

Calhoun said Coyote Legend is being aimed toward the $100,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings at Lone Star on May 8, the same day as the Grade 3, $200,000 Lone Star Derby.

Other Calhoun-trained stakes winners set for action in the coming weeks include Bubbler, who is being pointed to the Irving Distaff at Lone Star on April 24, and Dubai Majesty, who is on target to race in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, where Calhoun has another string of horses.

Bombarda returns in allowance

More immediately, Calhoun is represented by a starter in Thursday's second race at Lone Star with the comebacking Bombarda, who goes against four rivals in a $22,500 second-level allowance at six furlongs on dirt. Her chief opposition is expected to come from Cosmo Girl, who finished third in the Dixie Belle Stakes earlier this year Oaklawn Park.

Cosmo Girl could prove to have a fitness edge, having raced three times this year, including most recently when fourth in the March 20 Prima Donna Stakes at Oaklawn.