05/26/2009 11:00PM

Sterner assignment next for It's a Bird


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - It's a Bird won the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on the track's Million Day program, when six stakes worth $1.1 million were run to make for the richest card in Texas. Wolfson also walked away with the $100,000 Valid Expectations, courtesy of Pious Ashley, but his stakes double came on what turned out to be a bittersweet day.

Wolfson's other starter on the card, Flibberjibit, sustained an injury to her left hind leg after taking a bad step in the first turn of the Grade 3, $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff. She was later euthanized, according to an official with the Texas Racing Commssion.

It's a Bird won the Lone Star one race after the Ouija Board. He came back on late to defeat Jonesboro and add to his accomplishments this year, which include wins in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24 and the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 4. He could run next in the Grade 1, $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 13.

But if It's a Bird runs in that spot, he probably would need a new jockey. His regular rider, Julien Leparoux, also rides Einstein, the nation's top older horse and a probable for the Stephen Foster. Wolfson said Leparoux, who won three stakes at Lone Star on Monday, has been a key part of It's a Bird's success.

"We were talking about the Stephen Foster, but then again if you go to the Stephen Foster you lose Julien because he rides Einstein - and Julien fits this horse," Wolfson said. "So I don't know. I don't like to make a change on a rider that gets along with a horse. But we have been talking about the Stephen Foster for a long time.

"He loves a mile and an eighth, and that's why I was pointing him for the Stephen Foster. I can't rule it out. I just have to see. I ran him here so it would be three weeks to the Stephen Foster. The timing was perfect."

Wolfson said an alternate plan for It's a Bird could be the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 4.

It's a Bird cut back from 1 1/8 miles in the Oaklawn Handicap to win the 1 1/16-mile Lone Star by a head, showing determination after being passed in the stretch by Jonesboro. It's a Bird was the 121-pound highweight, while Jonesboro, winner of the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile last month at Lone Star, toted 118.

"He really showed me a lot," Wolfson said of It's a Bird, adding the horse had a five-hour layover when flying to Dallas. "He had a long trip here, and that doesn't help when you have to do that."

It's a Bird, a 6-year-old, races for Edmund Gann.

Pious Ashley may try Princess Rooney

Wolfson said Pious Ashley could make her next start in the Grade 1, $350,000 Princess Rooney at her Calder base July 11 following her stalk-and-pounce win in the Valid Expectations for fillies and mares. She covered the six furlongs in a sharp 1:09.43.

"I thought she ran huge," said Wolfson.

"We bought her at Keeneland as a broodmare prospect, but I kind of liked her form when we got her. It looked good."

It was decided to race Pious Ashley, a 4-year-old owned by Farnsworth Stables, and Wolfson felt keeping her at sprint distances would serve her best based on pedigree. The Valid Expectations was her second straight sprint win behind a quick allowance score at Gulfstream in April.

Leparoux was aboard Pious Ashley. His other winner on the card came on Seaspeak in the Grade 3, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup for trainer Ralph Nicks.

* Kite Seeker, who runs in the featured eighth race Thursday night, exits an allowance that gained stature over the holiday weekend. She was third in a 1 1/16-mile turf race won May 8 by Wasted Tears, who on Monday shattered the course record for a mile on turf at Lone Star when she won the Ouija Board in 1:32.81. Kite Seeker returns in a first-level allowance route, and trainer Mark Whitton has given the mount to Larry Taylor.