05/18/2003 11:00PM

Pass Rush back at best distance in Handicap


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Pass Rush could challenge Bluesthestandard for favoritism Monday when the two meet in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. The 1 1/16-mile race is the richest of seven stakes to be run on the special Memorial Day card at Lone Star Park.

Of the stakes, which are worth a cumulative $1 million, five will be for open company, and two restricted to horses bred in Texas. Also this weekend, Lone Star will run the $150,000 Stonerside for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Saturday.

Pass Rush, second last out in the Grade 2, $200,000 Churchill Downs Handicap at seven furlongs, will be getting back to perhaps his best distance in the Lone Star Park Handicap.

He has won the last two times he has raced at 1 1/16 miles, most recently in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita on Jan. 11.

Pass Rush is scheduled to fly into Texas on Friday.

"Timewise, the race is a good fit," said Patrick Byrne, who trains Pass Rush for Michael Tabor. "It's three weeks from his last start."

Pass Rush was second to top sprinter Aldebaran last out in the Churchill Downs Handicap in his first start back from a three-month freshening. He was given the time off after traveling to California twice this year for races from his base in Kentucky.

Jeanette Hughes, assistant racing secretary at Lone Star, said Pass Rush, weighted at 118 pounds for the Lone Star Park Handicap, is one of nine early probables for the race. The others are Bluesthestandard, the Grade 3 Texas Mile winner and likely starting highweight at 120 pounds, Keats, Maysville Slew, Mr. John, Parrott Bay, Pie N Burger, Private Emblem, and Where's the Ring.

Jockeys shipping in for Million Day include Pat Day, Shane Sellers, Calvin Borel, and Martin Pedroza.

Bien Nicole back on turf

Bien Nicole, whose three starts this year have been on dirt, will get back to her best surface, turf, in the Grade 3, $200,000 WinStar Distaff on Monday. The one-mile race for fillies and mares, which will be run as a graded race for the first time, has nine early probables.

Bien Nicole was set to get back on grass in an allowance race in her last start, but wet weather forced the race to the main track. Bien Nicole won anyway to pick up her second win this year. Her first came in her seasonal debut in March in the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup.

Despite a strong record on dirt, Bien Nicole shines on turf, where she won five straight races last year, four of them stakes. Others in the WinStar include Magic Mission, second last out in the Grade 3 Jenny Wiley, Garden in the Rain, Little Treasure, Adalgisa, and Polygreen.

Morluc possible for Beck

Top-class turf sprinter Morluc is possible for the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint on Monday. The horse is one of three trainer Randy Morse has nominated to the five-furlong race, and he said of those, he is leaning toward starting Morluc.

The Morse-trained Testify is another Beck nominee of note. Testify is also being considered for the Grade 3, $100,000 Jaipur Handicap at seven furlongs on turf at Belmont on Monday.

Morluc would likely be the starting highweight at 120 pounds if he goes in the Beck. Others pointing for the race include last year's winner, Nuclear Debate.

* Lone Star Deputy, winner of the $100,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge in April, heads a full field of 3-year-olds expected for the $200,000 USA Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf Monday.

* The field will be short but competitive for the $100,000 Valid Expectations, at six furlongs for fillies and mares. Among those expected to start are Distinctive Code, winner of the $100,000 Victoria Lass at Fair Grounds.

* In the stakes for Texas-breds, the $50,000 Carter McGregor is expected to be the comeback race for Lights on Broadway, while three-time stakes winner Hadif's Allstar heads the list of 3-year-old fillies probable for the $50,000 Valor Farm.