09/21/2006 11:00PM

Stone Rain main speed in fast field


Stone Rain, a front-runner who in his last start earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109, could face a significant amount of pace competition Sunday in the $150,000 Premier Breeders' Cup Stakes at Zia Park.

Still, trainer Billy Morey is confident in Stone Rain.

"I know there are a couple of speed horses in there," he said. "I know [Sweepingly], he's fast. So are we."

Sweepingly shattered the five-furlong track record at Remington Park last out, running the distance in 55.60 seconds. He likes to be prominent, and so does War Bridle, who reeled off three sprint wins from May to July.

But the horse to beat is Stone Rain, who has won five of his last six starts, all wire to wire. His victory last time out came in an allowance at Golden Gate Fields, where he covered six furlongs in 1:08.80. The 109 Beyer he earned was a career-best and the second triple-digit Beyer in his last three starts; he also earned a 106 Beyer for a stakes win at Pleasanton on July 8.

"There's no question, he wants to go to the front," said Morey, who has given the mount to Roberto Gonzalez.

Stone Rain's connections went to great lengths to get him to Zia, flying him to Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday morning, then vanning him six hours to Hobbs.

"It was our only way," said Morey.

The purse for the Premier has been increased $100,000 over last year's inaugural running, with $50,000 of that amount coming from the Breeders' Cup fund. The increase helped attract War Bridle, who arrived early Friday morning after vanning in from Louisiana Downs.

"We were looking for a spot," said Sam David, Jr., who trains War Bridle. "For $150,000, we knew it would be a little tougher, but for that kind of money you've got to give it a try. And I think he'll be very competitive in there. He's doing good right now."

War Bridle won the $75,000 Folklore at Louisiana Downs in his last dirt start July 29 and was flattered when the runner-up, Random Gold, came back in his next start to win a stakes at Remington.

"His best race is just eyeballing a horse and digging in and fighting," David said of War Bridle. "In the Folklore, he fought with that horse from the quarter pole to the wire and he got the nod. He's just that kind of horse. He'll give it all he's got when he's eyeballing a horse, so that's the plan."

David has given the mount to Jose Verenzuela.