03/26/2007 11:00PM

Sand training track Danaher's secret to success


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Horses with the word "humble" in their name are making a big rumble this meet at Oaklawn Park. Most race for Jim Danaher, the 85-year-old breeder, owner, and trainer who ships in to run from his training center base in Pine Bluff, Ark.

Although Danaher has just 10 horses racing at the meet, he has won eight races. Overall, he is winning at a 29 percent rate, which is the third highest among the top 20 trainers at Oaklawn. His horses are prepared on a one-mile track located 72 miles from Oaklawn.

"We're right on the Arkansas River and we've got a pure sand track," said Danaher. "In other words, if there's a rock on our track, somebody brought it on there. It's deep sand, and, boy, you can leg a horse up on it.

"Everything's been going along real good. We've been lucky. I've got some good exercise riders, and it shows. That's the key to it right now."

Danaher has a couple of horses pointing for stakes here over the next few weeks. He said that Humble Janet, who closed for second in a first-level allowance here March 21, is to start in the $100,000 Instant Racing Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old fillies at a mile April 14. He also has Humble Smarty, a maiden winner here in February, on deck for the $50,000 Rainbow Stakes for 3-year-olds bred in Arkansas on Sunday.

"I think Smarty will end up being a good horse," said Danaher. "He hadn't had many races, but he's got the ability."

Danaher will also be active here Thursday in the fifth race with Humble Storm, who has won his last two starts. He will go in a $12,500 starter allowance sprint. John McKee has the mount, and has been a regular on Danaher's horses.

"John, we try to get him on all our horses," said Danaher. "He knows them."

Danaher breeds in Arkansas, and said that in addition to the horses he has racing at Oaklawn, he has six 2-year-olds in training. After the meet, he will ship and run at Lone Star Park and Louisiana Downs.

Decision pending on Wildcat Bettie B

Grade 1 winner Wildcat Bettie B breezed a half-mile in 53.13 seconds on Tuesday under Terry Thompson. She is nominated to the $50,000 Carousel here Saturday, but her trainer, Larry Jones, said Tuesday he was undecided whether she would start in the six-furlong race for fillies and mares. It would be her first out since finishing second by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 3 Safely Kept at Laurel on Oct. 21. Wildcat Bettie B has also been under consideration for the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap against male rivals here April 13.

Jones said stakes winner Miss Elsie is a definite for the Carousel. Also pointing for the race is Miss Macy Sue, according to her trainer, Kelly Von Hemel. She has worked seven consecutive bullets at Oaklawn in preparation for her first start since a troubled fifth-place finish in the Safely Kept.

Entries for the race were to be taken Wednesday.

Starbase eyes Lexington

Starbase, who finished fifth in the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End, is now being pointed for the Grade 2, $325,000 Lexington at Keeneland on April 21, said his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas.

Starbase led for the first six furlongs of the Lane's End.

"He ran very well," Lukas said.

Starbase, who is graded-stakes-placed, won an allowance opening weekend at Oaklawn.

The Lukas-trained Flying First Class had his first work since an eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Rebel on Tuesday, going five furlongs in 1:00.25. Lukas said he remains on deck for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby here April 14. Flying First Class won his maiden on Feb. 19 with a Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

Several options for Going Ballistic

Going Ballistic, who closed for fourth in the Rebel, could go next in either the Arkansas Derby or the $100,000 Northern Spur BC, both here April 14. His trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, said Going Ballistic also will be considered for the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Derby on May 12.

"One or two of those races, I think, would be our outlook," said Von Hemel.

Louisiana return for Tortuga Straits

Tortuga Straits, who had been under consideration for last Saturday's $100,000 Crescent City Derby at Fair Grounds, came out of his last work with a minor physical setback and will return to action at Louisiana Downs, said his trainer, Ralph Irwin.

Irwin said Tortuga Straits could make his next start in the $50,000 Free Spirit's Joy, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds bred in Louisiana. It will be run May 12.

Tortuga Straits has a 6-for-6 career record and has earned $363,000. He has been voted champion 2-year-old colt or gelding for 2006 by the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, the organization announced Tuesday.

Yourmoneysnogood Nebraska-bound

Yourmoneysnogood, who beat a deep group in an optional claimer here last Saturday, could make his next start in the $30,000 Dowd Mile at Fonner Park on April 14, said his trainer, Kelly Von Hemel.

"We're seriously thinking about the Dowd," he said. "And if he'd do good there, we could run him in the Bosselman."

The Dowd is a prep for the $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes at Fonner on April 28.