06/07/2007 11:00PM

Spark Plug ready to try Texas-bred stakes


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The Stonerside Stable operation of Texas residents Bob and Janice McNair has accounted for some notable Lone Star Park winners this meet. The first was Bob and John, who captured last month's Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. The latest is Spark Plug.

Spark Plug uncorked a five-length debut win on June 3, defeating a nice field of Texas-bred 2-year-olds. He tracked the pace in second for much of the five-furlong race, then drew off in the stretch. Spark Plug's effort was one of the more dominant - and professional - juvenile wins seen at the current meet.

"He had worked adequately in the morning, but he hadn't done anything that really made us think he was going to run that big first time out," said Michael Stidham, who trains Spark Plug. "So, we were pleasantly surprised at that.

"He went out there and did it like he's been doing it his whole life."

Spark Plug has a number of speed influences in his pedigree. He is a son of Valid Expectations, a multiple-stakes-winning sprinter who is now a leading sire in Texas. Spark Plug is out of the eight-time winning mare Belle Visage, who is a half-sister to multiple sprint stakes winner Urban Dancer, an earner of $300,935.

Stidham said the plan is to look at restricted stakes options for Spark Plug. The last one on the Lone Star calendar is the $125,000 colts and geldings division of the Texas Stallion Stakes on July 7.

Two-year-olds the focus Sunday

Lone Star caters to 2-year-olds during its spring meet, and perhaps the most interesting race on the card Sunday is a maiden special weight for juveniles that goes as the third race, at 5 1/2 furlongs. The nine-horse field includes sons of Mt. Livermore, Northern Afleet, Captain Bodgit, and Vindication.

Galiano is a son of Vindication, a winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He is making his career debut on Sunday. Trainer Steve Asmussen has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.

Ocean of Dreams is another who will launch his career in the third race. He is a son of Wekiva Springs, and his dam, Double Dani, was a stakes winner of $210,544. Trainer John Locke has given the mount to Richard Eramia.

Steven's Afleet, by Northern Afleet, is also making his career debut. He is a half-brother to 13-time winner Transcendent. Justin Shepherd will ride for trainer Jorge Lara.

Qualifier set for June 16-17

Lone Star will hold a qualifying tournament for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship on June 16-17. The top three finishers from the two-day tournament will win berths to the national championship, which is to be held in Las Vegas in January.

The deadline to enter the Lone Star qualifer is June 15. So far, more than 160 players have entered thie tournament. Last year, the tournament drew 123 entries. The Lone Star qualifier will offer more than $10,000 in prize money. The entry fee is $250 per person, or $150 if the entrant is a member of the Star Player Rewards club at Lone Star.

* A minor-league baseball stadium will be built on land situated between Lone Star and the Nokia Theatre. The stadium, which will be owned by the city of Grand Prairie, is scheduled to open in May 2008.