02/21/2008 12:00AM

Sebastian County starting year in sprint


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The first look at Sebastian County, one of the most promising 3-year-olds based at Oaklawn Park, can be had Saturday when he makes his season debut in the $50,000 Mountain Valley Stakes. The six-furlong race drew four others, including multiple stakes winner Carson's Legacy.

Sebastian County will be making his first start since Sept. 1, when he was a good third to future Grade 1 winner Wicked Style in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity at a mile at Arlington Park. Before that race, Sebastian County won his maiden and a first-level allowance, both in sprints. He was freshened over the winter, and the six-furlong distance Saturday was appealing for his first race back, said his trainer, Don Von Hemel.

"I thought it was best for the horse," he said. "I was a little late in getting started, and I sure didn't want him to start around two turns right off the bat. I didn't want to have to train him that hard, so we picked the Mountain Valley to start, and hopefully, we'll move forward from there."

Sebastian County, a full brother to undefeated Grade 3 winner Cactus Ridge who races for his breeder, Dream Walkin' Farms, shows a nice series of works for his return. After beginning his career on Polytrack, he will be making his first start on conventional dirt Saturday.

"We've worked him over it, and we've worked him behind horses and let the dirt hit him in the face and everything, so we feel good about it," said Von Hemel.

Larry Sterling has the mount on Sebastian County, who will break from post 3.

"I imagine we'll be laying off of them a little bit, make a run at them," said Von Hemel.

Carson's Legacy turned in one of the best races of his career last out, when he closed with a flourish to win the $50,000 Dixieland here Jan. 18. The win came in his first start since November.

"I think that he ran a really good race," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Carson's Legacy. "It was all we could have hoped for that day."

Luis Quinonez has the mount.

Ferragamo will be making his stakes debut off a wire-to-wire allowance win at Oaklawn on Jan. 20 in which he covered six furlongs in a sharp 1:09.60. Since then, he has worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40, the quickest of 47 moves at the distance here Feb. 18.

"He looked good doing it," said Larry Jones, who trains Ferragamo. "He's doing well."

Joe Johnson has the mount.