02/01/2008 1:00AM

Pure Clan to ramp up training


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Pure Clan and Sebastian County were on different missions when they worked this past week at Oaklawn Park. The horses are two of the top 3-year-olds on the grounds, and both are on schedule to make starts in local stakes in March.

Pure Clan was out for a three-furlong breeze Tuesday, her first work since she ran her career record to 4 for 4 in the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. She covered the distance in 38.40 seconds, working under regular exercise rider Steve Schmelzel.

"She had a nice little breeze, her first breeze back," said Bob Holthus, who trains Pure Clan and freshened her after the Golden Rod. "We just wanted to stretch her legs. She was getting bored just galloping. She wanted to do something."

Depending on the weather, Holthus said, Pure Clan should work again either Monday or Tuesday. Her training will be stepped up now as she gets ready for her 3-year-old debut, which is scheduled to come in the $100,000 Honeybee, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies at Oaklawn on March 16.

"We'll have her on an every-six-day work schedule to the Honeybee," Holthus said.

Pure Clan is a winner on dirt and turf, with her biggest wins coming in the Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles and the Grade 3 Pocahontas, a one-mile race at Churchill on Oct. 28. She races for Lewis Lakin and is a half-sister to Greater Good, winner of the Southwest and Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn in 2005.

Learning drill for Sebastian County

Sebastian County, who in his last start was third in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park on Sept. 1, drilled five furlongs from the gate Wednesday morning. Jockey Larry Sterling Jr., his regular rider, was aboard for the work, which was designed as a schooling drill.

Sebastian County worked in a set of four horses, was asked to rate behind the others, took the lead on the turn, and finished clear of his workmates at the wire. He covered the distance in 1:01.60.

"We accomplished what we set out to do, and that was to school him a little bit behind horses," said Don Von Hemel, who trains Sebastian County. "We'll get him to where he's comfortable with dirt in his face and so forth, and I thought everything went very well.

"All he's done is run on Polytrack, too, and they don't get much of that in their face. So, we thought maybe we better get him behind those horses and let him eat a little dirt and see how he reacted to that. It wasn't any problem at all."

Sebastian County has made all three of his starts at Arlington, winning his maiden at five furlongs in July, then taking a first-level allowance in August. From there, he tested stakes rivals in the Arlington-Washington and finished third by two lengths to Wicked Style, a horse who returned in his next start to capture the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity.

Sebastian County is a full brother to Grade 3 winner Cactus Ridge. Sebastian County races for his breeder, Dream Walkin' Farms.

Sandburr equals career-best Beyer

The 9-year-old Sandburr equaled the best Beyer Speed Figure of his career last Sunday, when he earned a 98 for his win in a $40,000 optional-claiming route. It was Sandburr's first start at Oaklawn, and his trainer, Michael Stidham, said the horse has been nominated to the $100,000 Essex here Feb. 9.

"I don't know that we'd run back that quick," Stidham said.

He said Sandburr also has stakes options at Sam Houston, in the Tomball on Feb. 23 and the Spring on March 22. The horse's long-term goal is a defense of his title in the $50,000 Premier on the opening-day card at Lone Star Park on April 10.