10/08/2003 11:00PM

Sand Springs terrific or terrible


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Tony Reinstedler was asked if there is anything markedly different about Sand Springs.

"Naw," said Reinstedler. "She's just crazy."

Crazy and fast. Sand Springs is one of two fillies that Reinstedler will saddle Saturday on behalf of owner Peter Willmott for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. Aud, a late-running filly whose style is in direct contrast to the headstrong Sand Springs, is the other.

From 11 career races, Sand Springs has been a model of inconsistency, running spectacularly in most of her races but miserably in a few others. On her best, she has been good enough to win the Regret and Lake Placid stakes and to finish a terrific second behind Dimitrova in the American Oaks. On her worst, she has bolted or been virtually eased.

"She's got a mind of her own," said Reinstedler. "She has a way of being too hard on herself and too aggressive all the time. You just have to keep her as happy as you can, let her do what she wants."

Thursday morning at Keeneland, Reinstedler, who normally has his entire stable at Churchill Downs, brought Sand Springs out for a routine gallop as training hours wound down, when the track is less crowded. The idea was to allow Sand Springs a little elbow room while also minimizing the chances that she might hurt another horse or rider if she decided to do something foolish.

"You pretty much have to leave her alone, and I think Guidry has done a great job of getting to know what he can and can't do with her," said Reinstedler, referring to Mark Guidry, who will ride Sand Springs for the seventh straight time Saturday. "If you don't, she'll fight you - and you'll lose."

Reinstedler said Sand Springs "probably got bored with the wide, sweeping turns" at Belmont when the filly stopped trying and finished seventh in her last start, the Sept. 7 Garden City Breeders' Cup. "She's like that," he said. "She decided she just didn't want to run any more. These tight, banked turns at Keeneland, I think she's going to love them."

So despite her temperamental tendencies, Sand Springs rates a solid chance in the 1 1/8-mile QEII. Reinstedler believes the opening stages will go a long way in determining the outcome. "If she can settle right away and get into a nice rhythm, she could be tough," he said. "But if she gets pressure and wants to get into a battle, then we're in trouble."

As for Aud, who rallied to win the Pucker Up at Arlington last month, "she could be right there if the pace sets up the right way," said Reinstedler. Aud, by Wild Again, was extended a QEII invitation Tuesday after one of the 10 original invitees, Solar Echo, was declared from the race by trainer Ron McAnally.

"I'm just glad to have an opportunity to run two," said Reinstedler. "Now we need to go get something done with 'em."

Clock Stopper a Sprint candidate

Clock Stopper swept to command soon after turning for home and drew off to a 2 1/4-length victory in Thursday's Perryville Stakes, leading trainer Dallas Stewart to consider taking the 3-year-old gelding to the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"We'll have to think about it," said Stewart, who won the 2001 BC Distaff with Unbridled Elaine. "This was a big effort today. He has some bright things ahead of him."

Clock Stopper, ridden by Robby Albarado, was fourth of six down the backstretch in the $108,300 Perryville before moving closer into the turn. At the eighth pole, he quickly spurted clear of Ballado Chieftain and Champali before finishing the distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet in a quick 1:25.33. He returned $4 as favorite.

Ballado Chieftain edged away from Champali to take second by another 1 3/4 lengths.

Clock Stopper now has won 4 of 9 starts. He won an Aug. 16 allowance at Saratoga in highly impressive fashion before finishing second by three-quarters of a length to Cajun Beat in the Kentucky Cup Sprint last month. Cajun Beat will run in the BC Sprint.

Bauhauser pointing to TCA Stakes

Bauhauser, the Argentine import who captured the Grade 3 Floral Park at Belmont in her latest start, is a major contender among a field of seven to nine fillies and mares expected Sunday for the $125,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.

Bauhauser, a gray 5-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen, has raced just three times in the U.S., winning twice. Other probables for the six-furlong race include Don't Countess Out, Vicki Vallencourt, and Bruana. This will be the 23rd running of the Grade 3 TCA Stakes.

Flint, owner in scuffle

The Keeneland stewards have tentatively scheduled a hearing into a minor altercation that occurred in the paddock Wednesday between owner Gus Goldsmith and trainer Bernie Flint. Several security personnel got between the men after an argument broke out, and Lexington police subsequently arrived on the scene, giving the clash far greater credence than what it might have otherwise deserved.

Flint formerly trained Del Diablo, owned partly by Goldsmith. The gelding finished last in the third race, after which the encounter ensued. Both Flint and Goldsmith live in Louisville.

* Wednesday was something of a mixed bag for apprentice rider James Graham. The 24-year-old native of Ireland is engaged to Lisa Caverley, an exercise rider who suffered strained knee ligaments Wednesday morning when she fell from one of the horses she gallops on a daily basis for Keeneland-based trainer Jeff Thornbury. Happily for Graham, he enjoyed the first Keeneland win of his career later that day. He rode Mr. Ron to a 9 3/4-length victory in the Wednesday opener.

* Jockey Greta Kuntzweiler has been back in action for more than a week after returning from a four-week layoff. Kuntzweiler incurred a shoulder injury in an Aug. 6 spill at Ellis Park in the same race in which jockey Remi Gunn was partially paralyzed. Kuntzweiler rode on the Oct. 2 closing-night program at Turfway Park and has been riding regularly at Keeneland since then.