05/01/2006 12:00AM

Quest Star preps for longer


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In just a few short days, Neil Howard has seen enough from Quest Star to know one thing.

"What a classy old horse," said Howard, who only recently assumed the training of Quest Star, an earner of $876,904. "He's a lovely old campaigner."

Quest Star, a winner in 7 of 39 starts, on Wednesday will make his first start for Howard, who was sent the 7-year-old horse by owner Frank Mansell, a longtime associate of Howard's main client, Will Farish. Quest Star is one of eight older horses entered in the Wednesday feature at Churchill Downs, a $68,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

had been trained by Elliott Walden until last summer, when Walden abruptly retired from training to run WinStar Farm's racing operations. Quest Star was turned over to Christophe Clement, who raced the horse one time this past winter at Gulfstream Park.

"Chris said that was a race the horse probably kind of needed, and I've really been kind of leaning on Chris for some guidance with the horse," said Howard. "This race, I don't know if he's going to be a little out of his element or what, because he's done most good going further. But we're looking long-term at the Louisville Handicap," a 1 3/8-mile grass race on May 29, "and this should help us get there."

Even if the Wednesday feature may seem a tad short for Quest Star's liking, there is no question he fits the company, since he does bring an apparent class edge to the race in which Missme, Dynareign, and a German import, Dayano, appear to be his top challengers.

, trained by Lynn Whiting, has amassed more than $500,000 in earnings and has proven especially adept in grass races at or near a mile. Missme was third in an Oaklawn Park tune-up three weeks ago.

Dynareign, trained by the former Bob Baffert assistant John Good, is in fine form, having most recently run second in the Grade 3 Connally Handicap at Sam Houston.

is the dangerous unknown of the group. Trained by Andreas Wohler, who won the 2001 Arlington Million with Silvano, Dayano will make his first start in more than a year. Last summer, Dayano, who has finished second twice in Group 1 events overseas, was sent to Arlington but was sidelined with pleurisy and since has been turned over to trainer Niall O'Callaghan.