01/16/2008 12:00AM

Pure Clan heads big female presence


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A year after probable champions Curlin and Lawyer Ron won major stakes at Oaklawn Park, the top performances of this year's meet could belong to the girls.

Pure Clan is the most credentialed 3-year-old on the grounds, while Kettleoneup, High Heels, and Brownie Points are all settled in and pointing for the region's lone Grade 1 stakes, the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap for fillies and mares on April 5.

Pure Clan is the meet's top candidate for the Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy for 3-year-old fillies April 6. She ran her record to 4 for 4 in November, winning the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs. She also won the Grade 3 Pocahontas at Churchill in October.

"We gave her a little time off after Churchill," said Bob Holthus, who trains Pure Clan. "She's been galloping since about Christmas. She gallops every day. She's going to start breezing after the first of February."

Holthus said Pure Clan's first start of the year could come in the $100,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 16. Pure Clan is a half-sister to Greater Good, whom Holthus sent out to win both the Southwest and Rebel at Oaklawn in 2005.

Trainer Larry Jones has several fillies who could run in stakes at the meeting. He said Proud Spell, the second-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, will be nominated to the Fantasy. She is based at Fair Grounds.

"Right now, tentatively, we just have the Silverbulletday and the Fair Grounds Oaks kind of penciled in," said Jones. "After that, we don't know what's going to happen. Of course, we've got some other fillies that hopefully are going to fill in these spots. If we can't be here with her, we're going to try to be here with something."

Jones said Maren's Meadow, fourth behind Proud Spell in the Grade 2 Matron, will run in the $50,000 Dixie Belle at Oaklawn on Jan. 26. Another Jones filly of note, Royal Diana, is being pointed for the Honeybee. Jones also trains the well-bred Eight Belles, and she may run in the Fantasy, a race he won in 2003 with Ruby's Reception.

Rated Fiesty, an undefeated multiple Grade 3 winner based at Fair Grounds with defending Oaklawn training champ Steve Asmussen, will be nominated to the local two-turn series for 3-year-old fillies. Asmussen said she also would be nominated for the Dixie Belle.

Another 3-year-old filly of note is French Kiss, a half-sister to last year's Fantasy winner, High Heels, who is based at Oaklawn with trainer Gary Hartlage.

Kettleoneup starts up

Kettleoneup is among the top mares on the backstretch. She comes into the Oaklawn meet off an impressive win in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill on Nov. 22. Last year, she was the runner-up in the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn, then won the Grade 3 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne.

"We gave her a month off after the Falls City," said Mike Tomlinson, who trains Kettleoneup. "She had her first little comeback work [Monday]. She didn't go out of training, we just backed off and freshened her."

Tomlinson said Kettleoneup could make three starts at the meet, with the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri on Marcho9 and the Apple Blossom as the major objectives. She will also be considered for the $50,000 Pippin, which will be run on Feb. 16.

High Heels has been working at Oaklawn, and her objectives this meet are the Azeri and the Apple Blossom, according to Hartlage. She last raced on Nov. 22, finishing second in the Falls City. High Heels also was third in last year's Kentucky Oaks.

Brownie Points's goal this meet is the Apple Blossom, said trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Gasia, one of six older fillies and mares that Jones has to pull from, is here with the same goal. Last year she won the Bayakoa at Oaklawn and is scheduled to run next in the Pippin.

Borel at Fair Grounds on Saturday

Jockey Calvin Borel, who won last year's Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense, will travel from his Oaklawn base on Saturday to ride the 3-year-old Denis of Cork in an allowance at Fair Grounds, according to his agent, Jerry Hissam.

Other quality young horses Borel has been riding are Turf War, a dead-heat winner of the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot with Z Humor in December, and Blackberry Road, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Lecomte last weekend at Fair Grounds.

Borel is part of an Oaklawn colony that includes defending champ Luis Quinonez and a host of newcomers, notably Ricky Frazier and apprentice Dylan Williams. There are also about 20 new trainers at the meet, among them Mike Gorham.

* Oaklawn will have 50-cent corned beef sandwiches and 10-cent sodas on Friday. Last year the track drew 20,070 patrons for the opening-day program. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a high of 50 degrees.

* The best 3-year-old colts here include Golden Yank, the third-place finisher in the Delta Jackpot, and Sebastian County, a full brother to Grade 3 winner Cactus Ridge.