06/17/2004 12:00AM

Star Over the Bay has speed galore


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - There is speed in the $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park on Saturday, and then there is Star Over the Bay. In from Southern California, he looks like the speed of the speed in the 1 1/8-mile turf race, which also drew front-runners Warleigh and Waupaca.

The Dallas Turf Cup is the richest grass race of the meet at Lone Star, and it drew seven horses, including Grade 2 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap winner Della Francesca. Warleigh is the 119-pound highweight, and he, along with the rest of the field, figures to be tracking Star Over the Bay.

Star Over the Bay won an $80,000 claiming race at Hollywood Park on May 16 in his last start, covering a mile on turf in a brisk 1:33. He earned a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort, and was claimed out of the race by trainer Mike Mitchell on behalf of G Racing, VanBurger, and Vaughn.

"He went to the lead and I thought maybe he was going too fast, but he just kept going," said Mitchell.

Star Over the Bay, a 6-year-old gelding, first sparked Mitchell's interest in March when he won a 1 1/8-mile turf claimer at Santa Anita in a razor-sharp time of 1:46.60.

"From the quarter pole home he had another gear," the trainer said.

Star Over the Bay moved into a starter allowance following that race, and then was claimed by Mitchell one start later when he turned up for $80,000. Jon Court has the mount on Star Over the Bay, who is weighted at 115.

Warleigh comes into the Dallas Turf Cup off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Dixie on the Preakness Stakes undercard at Pimlico on May 15. He settled farther off the pace than usual in that race, then closed through the stretch in a strong effort. Prior to that race, Warleigh used front-running tactics to win the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park.

His other stakes wins since being claimed for $100,000 last August include the $100,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap. Shane Sellers has the mount on Warleigh for leading trainer Steve Asmussen.

A duel between some of the speed horses might benefit Della Francesca. He has speed himself, but was most effective using off-the-pace tactics in the Belmont Breeders' Cup last September. Leading rider Eddie Martin Jr. has the mount for trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

The forecast for Saturday is sunny skies and a high of 91 degrees. The Dallas Turf Cup will be televised live in the Dallas market on KDFI, Channel 27.