10/02/2002 12:00AM

Opener a showcase for Significant Speed


Significant Speed, coming off a win in the All American Gold Cup, tops a strong group of Texas-breds in the B.F. Phillips Jr. Handicap when the Lone Star Park fall Quarter Horse season, called the Fall Meeting of Champions, starts on Friday night.

The 33-night season brings together some of the sport's premier stakes runners for the MBNA America Challenge Championships on Nov. 2. Horses who have qualified through regional championship races will be at Lone Star Park to compete for $825,000 in six stakes races, highlighted by the Grade 1, $300,000 MBNA America Challenge Championship for older horses at 440 yards.

Horses expected for the MBNA America Challenge Championship are New Mexico Challenge winner Kendall Jackson and Texas Challenge winner Streakin Sin Tacha, each ranked in the top 10 nationally.

"The Challenge Championships help in getting horsemen to come here earlier in the meet," said Mike Shamburg, the track's racing secretary. "They also bring some other good horses with them to run while they are here.

"Just as importantly, the Challenge Championships helps keep local people here and from taking their horses someplace else. These races area big boost for us."

Opening night has a solid group of Texas-breds racing 400 yards in the Grade 3, $25,000 B.F. Phillips Handicap.

Significant Speed, the 2000 champion 2-year-old filly, comes off a convincing one-length win in the Grade 2 All American Gold Cup at Ruidoso Downs on Sept. 1. She raced the 440 yards in an excellent 21.168 seconds.

Also on opening night are the four trials for $150,000 (est.) Dash for Cash Derby with two-time Grade 1 winner Pretty Boy Perry. The finals will be on Oct. 18.

Saturday night, the trials for the $400,000 (est.) Cash for Cash Futurity will be held with Grade 1 Retama Park Futurity winner Shake Em White. The finals will be on Oct. 19.

More than $3.5 million is projected to be paid through the stakes program, highlighted by the $1 million (est.) Texas Classic Futurity on closing night. The average daily purse distribution, including stakes purses, is projected at $140,000.

The meet will run through Nov. 30 with racing on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule. First post time will be 6:35 p.m., except for a 5 p.m. first post time on Oct. 26 (Breeders' Cup Day). There will be no racing on Thanksgiving Day.

Corona Kool starts championship run

Corona Kool, owned by Lucas Racing, begins her fall campaign towards a possible championship title in the Grade 2, $60,000 Las Damas Handicap for fillies and mares on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Corona Kool is making her first start since an impressive one-length win in the Grade 1, $200,000 Los Alamitos Winter Championship on March 2, a victory that earned her an invitation in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champion Of Champions on Dec. 14. Since her Winter Championship win, she had minor ankle and knee surgery, and was bred to Chicks Beduino (the embryo was transferred to another mare).

"We'll let her tell us what to do after this race," McArthur said. "We may give her another start before the Champion of Champions."

Corona Kool, an earner of $1,267,675, was the 1999 champion 2-year-old filly and the 2001 champion aged mare.