01/23/2009 1:00AM

Pure Clan cranking up


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Pure Clan has returned to Oaklawn following a vacation and is to resume galloping this coming week, her trainer, Bob Holthus, said on Friday. The winner of the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park last July, she was one of the top 3-year-olds to come out of the Oaklawn meet in 2008.

"We brought her home and gave her 90 days off, freshened her up," Holthus said. "She needed a little time. We'll probably have her ready to run the first of May or late April."

Pure Clan sparred with Eight Belles last year at Oaklawn before going on to run third in the Kentucky Oaks. She then moved back to turf, where she had won her maiden, and took the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill and the American Oaks. Pure Clan last raced on Oct. 24, finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

Holthus said the filly has been jogging since her return to the barn and is ready to start galloping. During the Oaklawn meet last year, Lewis Lakin, who bred Pure Clan, sold an interest in the filly to the prominent group IEAH Stables and Pegasus Holdings. The millionaire filly is a graded winner on both dirt and turf, and Holthus said her first stakes try this year could come in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile in May.

"We'll probably stay more on the grass," he said of Pure Clan's campaign in 2009.

Vance back with promising 3-year-old

After missing his first Oaklawn meet in some 40 years last season, trainer David Vance is back this year and has a promising 3-year-old in his barn in Silver Bayer. The horse ran second in his two-turn debut in the $50,000 Smarty Jones on Monday, and is being nominated to the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest here Feb. 16.

Vance, 68, sustained severe injuries in an automobile accident about a month before the start of the Oaklawn season last year. He was traveling to Turfway Park in December 2007 when his vehicle hydroplaned in inclement weather. Soon afterward, Vance underwent surgery on his C-4 vertebrae. A year later, his prognosis is good.

"Hopefully, I can get out of this wheelchair one of these days," he said. "I've come a long way from where I was six months ago. I could barely walk with three or four people helping me. Now, I can walk on a walker with one person behind me, holding me.

"I walk twice a day when I get home, like little short distances, and at therapy I've done a lot of walking with people helping. It's just a complete new learning system. My right side is not 100 percent paralyzed, but it doesn't have a lot of movement to it. The left side I can use myself."

As for his racing operation, the objectives remain the same.

"My perspective hadn't changed any," Vance said. "The main thing is to keep trying to come up with better horses that can run in better races."

Silver Bayer might be one. Tom Schueck and Vance claimed him for $50,000 at Churchill in November, and a month later he rolled to a 7 3/4-length win in a first-level allowance at Turfway. Silver Bayer then advanced to the Smarty Jones, dueled with favorite Professor Z, and finished a clear second to the closer Flat Out. Silver Bayer earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 81.

"He ran a huge race," said Trisha Vance, a longtime assistant to her father who oversaw his stable last year at Oaklawn.

Vance resumed his regular schedule last spring at Churchill. He has a 20-horse stable at Oaklawn.

"We have a lot of maidens that have been running real close - two or three of them have been second or third in their last two or three starts," he said. "They all should break their maiden and have an opportunity to win a never-won-two, I think. If I get lucky and win eight or 10 races this meet, I'll think I've done very well."

Plans pending for Rated Fiesty

The next-race plans for Rated Fiesty, who was relentless in the stretch to edge Palanka City in the $50,000 American Beauty opening weekend at Oaklawn, are still being determined, said her trainer, Steve Asmussen. The next local race for her is the $50,000 Spring Fever on Feb. 21.

"It's one of the options, but most likely it's too quick [back]," Asmussen said. "She ran hard and we want to give her the necessary amount of time."

Rated Fiesty, who earned a Beyer of 95, is based at Fair Grounds.

* Trainer Hal Wiggins said Gradeo2 Golden Rod winner Rachel Alexandra remains on track for the $50,000 Martha Washington here Feb. 15 after breezing a half-mile in 47.80 seconds Thursday.

* Lake Lugano ($8.80) could be headed to the same race for trainer Larry Jones after winning the allowance prep Friday.