04/21/2004 11:00PM

Pie N Burger loves the track and could be a price


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Pie N Burger returns to arguably his favorite track for the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile on Saturday. The horse of the meet last year at Lone Star Park, he is unbeaten in three starts over the main track, including in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap and the $60,000 Bob Johnson Memorial.

Despite his credentials, Pie N Burger could be a fair price Saturday, as he is coming off a third-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade 3, $100,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn on March 14.

Pie N Burger was hooked from the start in that race, and he dueled throughout before being overtaken by Sonic West. After the Razorback, his connections bypassed the remaining handicaps at Oaklawn and focused on the Texas Mile.

"I don't think he didn't handle Oaklawn," said Cole Norman, who trains Pie N Burger for Kagele Bros Inc. "I just think he likes this track better."

Pie N Burger has worked sharply at Lone Star. In his final prep for the Texas Mile, he went five furlongs in 1:00.60 last Saturday.

Norman's barn is off to a hot start at this meet and he leads the standings with seven wins through Wednesday.

Norman has also been active at the claim box, taking 10 horses through Wednesday. Overall, there have been 19 claims this meet at Lone Star.

"I've got clients that want new ammo," he said.

Hi Teck Man returns in Grand Prairie

Hi Teck Man, who won the $500,000 WinStar Derby at 46-1 in his last start, will make his turf debut Saturday in the $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge. The one-mile race drew a full field of 12, including Cryptograph, Oncearoundtwice, Go Kitty Go, and Alpha Capo.

Hi Teck Man will be making his first start for trainer Bret Calhoun. He arrived at the track a few weeks ago, and is settled in at Lone Star.

"We breezed him on the grass the other day," said Calhoun. "We really just kind of let him ease around there. We didn't ask him for anything at all until the last eighth of a mile, just to kind of let him feel the grass, and when he was asked the last eighth, he leveled off and worked really good across it. He took to the grass very well."

Hi Teck Man has won six of nine starts in his career for earnings of $396,441.

"It looks like you just hang the bridle on him and lead him over there and he does the rest," Calhoun said.

Hi Teck Man removed blinkers for the WinStar Derby and settled off the pace. Calhoun looks for him to run a similar kind of race Saturday. He will be ridden by Eddie Martin Jr.

Cryptograph no stranger to turf

Cryptograph moves back to turf, the surface of his maiden win, after finishing fourth to Smarty Jones last out in the $200,000 Rebel at Oaklawn. Following that race, Cryptograph was considered for three other stakes, but trianer Donnie Von Hemel opted for the Grand Prairie Turf Challenge.

"I think it makes sense to give it a try here, and Smarty Jones isn't in there," said Von Hemel.

Von Hemel said he would like to see Cryptograph advance to the $200,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf here May 31. That race is a target for several other starters in the Grand Prairie.

* The Texas Mile will be televised live in the Dallas market starting at 5 p.m Central on KDFI, Channel 27.