08/18/2005 11:00PM

Second time around for Desert Boom

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AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Art Sherman first claimed Desert Boom for $25,000 in July 2004 at Del Mar, then lost him out of a win for the same price a month later.

That might have been the end of a short but sweet relationship, but Sherman had not had quite enough of it. At the suggestion of owner Bob Bone, Sherman spent $32,000 to reacquire Desert Boom in November, and neither trainer nor owner has had cause to regret the purchase. In eight subsequent starts, Desert Boom has won six times while collecting more than half of his career earnings, which now total $474,420.

is sitting on a three-race win streak, including the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate and the $138,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Canterbury, and he will attempt to make it four in a row in Sunday's Grade 3 Longacres Mile.

"He has been a special horse for us," said assistant trainer Steve Sherman, who will saddle Desert Boom for his father on Sunday. "He was good when we had him the first time, but he has raised his game to another level since we claimed him again. He is more relaxed now, and he has shown us that he doesn't mind coming from off the pace if somebody else insists on having the lead."

Coming from off the pace wasn't necessary in either of Desert Boom's last two wins, but Steve Sherman thinks it may very well be necessary in the Mile.

"There are a couple of really quick horses in the field, and I'm not sure we want to go with either Flamethrowintexan or Sabertooth early," he said. "For sure we'll send him into the first turn, because it is important to get position in a race like this, but I'm not overly concerned about whether he has the lead. He's a pro's pro, and he'll give it everything he has no matter where he's laying."

Sherman said Desert Boom's professional attitude is as much an asset before his races as during them.

"We never have to worry about shipping him or sending him to a new paddock," he said. "When we went to Canterbury, we were shipping into a lot of heat, and it really bothered a lot of the horses, but he never turned a hair. He never gets nervous or washes out. All he does is go out there and give you 150 percent every time."

Penney knows his speed

Flamethrowintexan and Saber-tooth, both trained by Jim Penney, will meet for the first time in the Mile, which races an interesting question. Which of the two front-runners will be sent to the lead?

While that question may puzzle handicappers, there isn't much doubt about the answer in Penney's barn.

"Sabertooth will go to the front," said assistant trainer Kay Cooper. "He only has one way of going, so we don't really have a choice in the matter. Fortunately, Flamethrowintexan has much more controllable speed. He showed that in the B.C. Derby last year when he sat a length off the lead and went on to win by 8 1/2 lengths. That may have been his best race, so we don't think we'll be compromising his chances at all by asking him to sit just off the pace."

Penney, who will be shooting for a record fifth victory in the Longacres Mile, will also saddle Turban, a wonderfully talented 6-year-old who will be making just his third start since being sidelined for nearly two years by an injury.

"We know he has the ability to win a race like this, and he comes from farther back than the other two, so he won't get in their way," said Cooper. "We're taking a shot with him."

'Secret weapon' for workout

Mr. Makah, who ran third to Adreamisborn in last year's Mile, buoyed trainer Bonnie Jenne's spirits when he blew out a sharp three furlongs in 36.80 seconds on Wednesday. The lively workout was much better than the half-mile in 50.20 seconds that Mr. Makah worked last week and the five furlongs in 1:02.20 that he drilled before his last race, a fifth-place finish to Flamethrowintexan in the Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap.

"I don't know if it will make him run any better on Sunday, but it sure makes me feel better about running him," said Jenne. "He just won't try for most riders in the morning, so I had to bring out my secret weapon."

That was Pam Terry, the wife of trainer Rick Terry, who took time out from exercising her husband's horses to work Mr. Makah.

"I broke him, so he knows he has to do what I want," said Terry. "He's a funny little horse, but he worked really well for me, and I wouldn't be surprised if he runs a big race in the Mile."

* Rider Nate Chaves is out indefinitely after reinjuring his wrist trying to prevent Wind and Wine from bolting in last Sunday's second race. Chaves broke the wrist when thrown in the paddock on June 19, and he only returned to riding two weeks ago. The extent of the new injury won't be known until swelling subsides.

* Trainer Doug Driever reported that the multiple-stakes-winning mare Top Penny has been retired with an ankle chip. Driever also said that the multiple-stakes-placed Best on Tap will miss the remainder of this meeting with a mild suspensory injury, but that he is expected to return next year.

* Do's Buckshot became the sixth horse to win six races at a single Emerald Downs meeting when he scored in Thursday's 1 1/8-mile feature. Both Do's Buckshot and Halonator have won six races at the meeting, which will still have 31 days to run after this weekend.