01/25/2008 12:00AM

Sandburr still dangerous at age 9


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Sandburr should get the right kind of pace setup on Sunday when he makes his Oaklawn Park debut in a $62,500 optional claimer. Among his 11 rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race are front-runners Iosilver, Flashstorm, and Ilikewhatiamdoing.

"When there's speed in front of him and he can just sit off of them, that stalking kind of style is what he seems to like to do best," said Michael Stidham, who trains Sandburr for Feel the Thunder Stable. "If it sets up for him, I think that would be great."

Sandburr is the kind of horse people tend to root for, a 9-year-old warrior who last year won three stakes. The first came in the $75,000 Louisiana Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds in January. From there, Sandburr won the $50,000 Premier at Lone Star Park in April and the $100,000 Star of Texas at Sam Houston Race Park in December. He will be looking for his 15th career win on Sunday.

"He's kind of become a barn pet type," Stidham said. "Everybody loves him. He kind of brightens the barn up. He's got a great attitude, loves to train still at 9."

Sandburr is making his first start in Hot Springs, and Stidham is hopeful he will handle the Oaklawn track. He said he feels the track shares some similarities with Sam Houston, where Sandburr won his second straight Star of Texas on Dec. 1. Sandburr enters Sunday's optional claimer off a seventh-place finish in the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap on Jan. 12.

"It was a tough spot, and we really didn't have the trip that he likes," said Stidham. "He kind of got shuffled back early, got out of the race early. "

Cliff Berry, who has won stakes on Sandburr the last two times he has ridden the horse, has the mount Sunday.

Iosilver is making his first start since October, when he wired a field of $40,000 optional claimers at Hawthorne. Flashstorm moves back to two turns, where he led throughout to win an allowance at Churchill Downs in June. Ilikewhatiamdoing has won his last four starts, all wire-to-wire at Remington Park.

A solid pace would suit Arch Hall, a Grade 3 winner of $724,236 who is making his first start since finishing sixth as the favorite in the $127,000 Sir Barton for Canadian-breds at Woodbine on Dec. 8.

* Moyer's Pond, the runner-up in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby, cuts back to six furlongs in the sixth, a $40,000 optional claimer. His rivals include stakes winner Go Poppa Fooze.