10/02/2008 12:00AM

Sandburr in stretch run of career


Sandburr could be making the penultimate start of his career Saturday night in the $100,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Retama Park.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race is one of six restricted stakes on the card worth a total of $500,000. The card is the richest of the meet and it complements the inductions of Bill Allen, Bobby Cox, Dorothy Scharbauer and Joe Straus Jr. into the Texas Horse Racing Hall.

Sandburr might be a member one day. The 9-year-old gelding has racked up four major Texas-bred stakes wins over the last couple of years, including the last two runnings of the $100,000 Star of Texas at Sam Houston. When that race is renewed in December, it might be the curtain call for Sandburr.

“There’s a chance of that,” said Michael Stidham, who trains Sandburr for Feel the Thunder Stable. “If all goes well in this race, we’ll point for running on Texas Champions Day, and maybe make that his retirement. The only thing that would change would be if we decided to wait until opening day at Lone Star.”

The Premiere for Texas-breds opens each Lone Star meet, and Sandburr has won the last two runnings of that race.

The Premiere and the Star of Texas are on dirt, and the race Saturday night is the division’s richest turf race. Sandburr last raced on Sept. 1, finishing second by three-quarters of a length in a $62,500 optional claimer on turf at Arlington and earning a strong Beyer Figure of 88.

“He ran hard,” said Stidham. “It was a solid field, and he really ran hard and was unlucky not to win.”

Cliff Berry has the mount on Sandburr, the probable favorite in a field of 12.

Northern Scene, who won the Hall of Fame in 2005, will be making his first start since December.

“He runs pretty good fresh,” said Morris Nicks, who trains Northern Scene.

Northern Scene shows three wins following layoffs, including the $50,000 Barksdale at Louisiana Downs in 2006. Northern Scene, 7, has been working sharply, including a five-furlong move in 59.20 seconds Sept. 13.

C E P A’s Forum will make his turf debut after winning a $35,000 optional claiming race at Remington on Sept. 5. Since that race, Acting Zippy, the runner-up, has won another optional claimer, with a Beyer of 96.

“I did get an opportunity to work him on turf over at Retama, and all the reports were positive,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains C E P A’s Forum. “He seemed to handle it very well.”

Turf debut for Gold Coyote

Gold Coyote will make his turf debut in the $50,000 Watson MacManus. The five-furlong race is restricted to 3-year-olds bred in Texas.

“He’s a 3-year-old who has won six stakes races, so there’s not a lot of places to run him,” said Calhoun, who trains Gold Coyote.

Gold Coyote, a front-runner, won the 5 1/2-furlong Harvest at Albuquerque last out in a blazing 1:02.80. It was his third straight stakes win, one of them over older horses.

* Truly Lucky should start as a top choice in the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies after running second to Sugar Mom in an allowance at Arlington. Sugar Mom went on to win the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies.

* Early Final, a two-time stakes winner, leads the colts division of the Texas Stallion Stakes.

* Pretty Squall should be strong at the distance in the $50,000 Fiesta Mile.