04/22/2004 11:00PM

Right distance for Storybook Kid


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Storybook Kid, who ran some of the best races of his career at Lone Star Park last season, returns to the track Sunday for a $40,000 turf allowance that figures to produce starters for the $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup here June 19.

Storybook Kid finished third to Patrol in that race last year after winning two allowances at Lone Star. A former claimer, he has become a different kind of animal on turf, and looks like the one to beat in a competitive race Sunday.

Others in the field of nine include stakes winners Crowned King, Waupaca, Mercenary, Rockchalk Jayhawk, and Maysville Slew.

Storybook Kid last raced on March 20, finishing third by a neck in a one-mile optional claimer at Fair Grounds. He gets an additional sixteenth to work with Sunday, which should help his cause, as his last win came at 1 1/16 miles in the $75,000 Independence Handicap at Louisiana Downs on July 4.

Trainer Patrick Mouton has given the mount to Don Simington.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel has two interesting starters in Waupaca, winner of the $75,000 Woodchopper at Fair Grounds, and Rockchalk Jayhawk, winner of the $35,000 Remington Green two starts ago at Remington Park.

Waupaca has developed rapidly since moving to turf in July. He has won four of six starts on the turf, including two stakes. The allowance Sunday will be his first since Jan. 31, when he took on older horses for the first time and finished an uncharacteristic ninth in the $100,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap.

"We took it easy with him for a little while, and then the last six weeks or so he's been training very well for this race," Von Hemel said. "He's been different horse since he's been on the grass."

Rockchalk Jayhawk moves back to turf after finishing third in an overnight handicap at Remington.

Others of interest in the field include Fourth Floor, who moves back to turf after winning an allowance at Oaklawn. He is a half-brother to Lazy Slusan, a Grade 1 winner of $1.1 million, and is trained by Cole Norman.

Spanish Empire eyes Alysheba

Spanish Empire, who in his last start won the Grade 3, $100,000 Fifth Season Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn, is pointing for the Grade 3, $100,000 Alysheba on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs on April 30.

"He might run in the Alysheba, or the Lone Star Park Handicap, or both," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Spanish Empire. "They're 30 days apart, so I'm leaning toward both."

The Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap will be run on May 31. Earlier this year, Spanish Empire won the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Other horses from the Asmussen barn pointing for upcoming stakes at Lone Star include Grand Steal, who is headed to the $75,000 Ford Express on May 8, and The Frac.

The Frac won his second straight race April 15, running six furlongs in 1:09.39. Asmussen said his next assignment is the $50,000 Harold Goodman Memorial for 3-year-old Texas-breds on May 31.

Asmussen won with two more potential stakes starters Thursday night at Lone Star. Savorthetime came close to equaling the track record for six furlongs when she won an allowance prep for the $100,000 Valid Expectations, to be run May 31, in 1:08.36. The record is 1:08.

Asmussen's other promising winner was Expect Will, a 2-year-old who won his debut in the third race. He is by Valid Expectations and out of the same mare as Superpave, a past 2-year-old champion at Lone Star.

Asmussen also saddled another impressive 2-year-old debut winner Wednesday night. Ready to Live was the first starter and first winner for Grade 1-winning stallion More Than Ready.

* Beau's Town, who does not race in blinkers, wore them for a workout Friday at Lone Star. He went five furlongs in 59.80 seconds. Beau's Town was fifth last out in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, and is being pointed for the Ford Express.