02/22/2008 12:00AM

Rebel next for Sierra Sunset


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Sierra Sunset was flown in from Northern California for last week's Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and now he'll be sticking around for a while, said his trainer, Jeff Bonde.

"He'll stay in Arkansas and will run back in the Rebel," said Bonde.

Sierra Sunset punched his ticket to the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel here March 15 with a strong runner-up finish in the Southwest. He raced in third behind a hot pace set by Sacred Journey, moved to the lead in the stretch, and then was overtaken by closer Denis of Cork. Sierra Sunset finished 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner, and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 92.

"He ran a very good race," said Bonde. "I was proud of him.

"I think there's still more to come from my animal."

Sierra Sunset was one of the most accomplished starters in the Southwest. He came into the race with three career wins, including the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita and the $75,000 Bay Meadows Juvenile. Last year, he finished sixth, beaten three lengths, in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park.

Sierra Sunset is a son of Bertrando, and he races for Philip Lebherz, Al Mariani, George Schmitt, and Carol Wirth.

Stone Bird, a two-time winner at the Oaklawn meet, is also a possibility for the Rebel, said his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. The horse won his maiden from off the pace in a one-mile race here Jan. 21. Stone Bird then won a first-level allowance on the front end, dueling and going on to a 5 1/2-length score Feb. 9. For the effort, he earned a career-best Beyer of 83.

Spotsgone, Prom Shoes to Razorback

Spotsgone, the winner of the $100,000 Essex Handicap, and Prom Shoes, who finished fifth as one of the top choices, will both likely run next in the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap at Oaklawn on March 8, said their trainer, Jinks Fires.

Spotsgone ran one of the best races of his career in the Essex, earning a Beyer Figure of 103 for his wire-to-wire win over Jonesboro. It was the fourth career stakes win for the consistent horse, who last year won the $148,000 Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup on turf and the Grade 3 Hanshin Handicap on Polytrack, both at Arlington Park.

Prom Shoes came into the Essex off a runner-up finish in the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds. He trailed the field early, then picked up some rivals through the lane and finished fifth. Fires said the horse was scoped after the Essex and was found to have displaced his soft palate. For his next start, he will add a figure-eight, the trainer said. A figure-eight noseband keeps a horse's mouth closed, and keeps his bit in place, or from dropping.

Last year, Prom Shoes was second by a nose to Sightseeing in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park.

Indian Chant in '08 debut Sunday

Indian Chant, who won two stakes during a four-race win streak last year, is part of a strong group that will run in Sunday's featured ninth race, an $80,000 optional claimer over six furlongs. Other notables in the five-horse field include Orphan Brigade, a multiple stakes winner of $540,530, and Greeley's Conquest, who is 2 for 3 at Oaklawn.

Indian Chant began his win streak last July, one race after finishing a half-length behind future Grade 1 winner Benny the Bull in an allowance at Churchill Downs. Indian Chant earned a career-best Beyer of 110 in defeat, then came back and won a six-furlong allowance at Churchill in 1:07.40.

He proceeded to win the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint and an allowance and the $175,000 Boyes Memorial, both at Presque Isle Downs. On Sunday, he will be making his first start since finishing fourth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland on Oct. 6. Eddie Razo Jr. has the mount for trainer Tom Amoss.

Esperamos is sold

Esperamos, who put up one of the year's best Beyers at a sprint distance - a 108 for his win in a $62,500 optional claiming race at Oaklawn on Feb. 8, has been sold, according to Mac Robertson, who trained the horse for Joseph Novogratz.

Royce Jaime, who was part of the ownership group that won the Breeders' Cup Sprint with Thor's Echo, purchased Esperamos. The horse is scheduled to ship to trainer Wesley Ward at Gulfstream Park, according to Jay Fedor, who helped facilitate the deal.

Esperamos has won his last five starts, one of them via a disqualification. A front-runner, he won the race on Feb. 8 by nine lengths, covering six furlongs in 1:09.