03/13/2009 12:00AM

Proud Spell still targets Apple Blossom

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Proud Spell was a victim of a slow pace Thursday at Oaklawn Park. The champion 3-year-old filly of 2008, Proud Spell finished second to wire-to-wire winner Superior Storm in what was her first start of the year, but has emerged from the race in good order and remains on course for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap here April 4, her trainer, Larry Jones, said on Friday.

Proud Spell raced about three lengths behind Superior Storm for much of the 1 1/16-mile, optional $75,000 claiming race and could not overcome the deficit as the winner coasted through six furlongs in 1:13.88. Proud Spell put her run in through the lane and finished 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner. For the effort, Proud Spell earned a Beyer Figure of 82.

"It looks like we just didn't get ourselves in the race," Jones said. "The half-mile was too slow for her to be that far back. I think it went in 48 and 3 and she was too far back. She just needed to be up there starting to press on [Superior Storm] at that point.

"If we were going to lose a race this year, I guess this was a good one to lose because the purse wasn't near as much as it would be on a lot of these others. But that wasn't design. The design was to go out and start off the year on a win."

The track was muddy Thursday, but Jones said he felt the footing was not an issue for Proud Spell. He said she would remain at Oaklawn to train up to the Apple Blossom.

Proud Spell races for her breeder, Brereton Jones.

Superior Storm could try Bayakoa

Superior Storm, a multiple stakes winner of $500,000 who has made the bulk of her money in Louisiana-bred stakes, made a rare open-company start Thursday after a statebred stakes she was being pointed for at Delta Downs did not fill March 6.

"We always said she could beat open company if everything worked out right, but I really didn't look forward to who she was in with," said Rick Jackson, who trains Superior Storm. "I just hated to see [Proud Spell] in the race when I picked up the overnight."

Jackson said Superior Storm would be nominated to the Apple Blossom, but he does not anticipate a rematch with Proud Spell.

"Take nothing away from my filly, but I know we caught Proud Spell coming back off a layoff," Jackson said. "I take that into consideration, too."

Jackson said Superior Storm would also be nominated to the $100,000 Bayakoa, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares at Oaklawn on April 8.

Let It Rock sidelined

Let It Rock, the winner of the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback here March 7, came out of the race with a non-displaced fracture in his left front cannon bone, said his trainer, Judi Hicklin. She said he could return to action in the fall, perhaps for the Hawthorne Gold Cup.

"It's not that bad," Hicklin said. "They come back from these."

Let It Rock shipped in from Tampa Bay Downs for the Razorback, which was his second career stakes win. He is one of two graded stakes winners Hicklin has in her eight-horse stable at Tampa. The other is Wayzata Bay, the winner of last year's Grade 2 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup.

Wayzata Bay has several options for his next start, she said, including the $100,000 Fifth Season at Oaklawn on April 9.

Lukas looks to invade Turfway

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has a trio of 3-year-olds under consideration for stakes at Turfway Park next Saturday. He said Flying Private, who was a fast-closing, troubled second in the $50,000 Mountain Valley here Feb. 28, is being pointed for the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End.

Stone Legacy, an impressive maiden winner who was second in a first-level allowance here March 1, is a candidate for the Grade 3, $150,000 Bourbonette Oaks.

"I need to split her off from Be Fair," Lukas said, referring to another stakes-caliber filly in his barn who runs here Sunday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Honeybee.

Ninth Client, who is Grade 3-placed on the grass, is scheduled to return to stakes competition in the $100,000 Rushaway.

"We're trying Ninth Clint, who's good on the turf, on the Polytrack," said Lukas.

* Texas Code, a stakes winner, will make his first start since August 2005 in the fourth race Sunday. He is 12.