06/19/2008 11:00PM

Storm Mesa shifts focus to Iowa


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Plans for Storm Mesa are reset. After being considered probable for the Delaware Oaks, she is instead headed to Prairie Meadows for her next start in a decision reached Thursday, said her trainer, Bret Calhoun.

"We changed gears and we're going to the Iowa Oaks," he said.

Calhoun said travel arrangements factored into the decision. He said a flight could be secured to Prairie Meadows, but not to Delaware Park. Calhoun said he also believes Storm Mesa will handle the Prairie Meadows surface better than she would the main track at Delaware.

Storm Mesa will be stretching back out around two turns for the Iowa Oaks, a Grade 3, $200,000 race at 1 1/16 miles June 27. In her last start, she won at seven furlongs in the $100,000 Cinemine at Lone Star Park on May 26. Storm Mesa was prominent throughout for a 13 1/2-length win, and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108.

The number is the second-highest put up so far this year by a 3-year-old filly, behind the 113 earned by Zaftig in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park on June 7. Storm Mesa has won her last three starts, dating back to a one-mile maiden special weight race at Fair Grounds on March 13. She followed that up with an 8 1/2-length win in a first-level allowance at a mile at Lone Star on April 27.

Eddie Martin Jr., who was aboard Storm Mesa for the Lone Star allowance win and the Cinemine, has the mount in the Iowa Oaks, said Calhoun. Storm Mesa is now based at Churchill, where she breezed five furlongs on turf Friday, going the distance, around the dogs, in 1:04.60.

"I loved the way she worked," said Calhoun. "You don't get the opportunity a lot of places to work on the turf. I wanted to see how she handled it, to know if it might be an option sometime down the road for her."

After watching the work, Calhoun said he would not hesitate to run her on the grass. Storm Mesa is a daughter of Sky Mesa, and races for Richard L. Davis.

Mr. Nightlinger may head to Arlington

Calhoun had success over the Churchill turf on Wednesday with Mr. Nightlinger, who won a $100,000 optional claiming sprint and who could see stakes action next at Arlington Park. He said the horse would be considered for a start in the track's $50,000 Taylor's Special at five furlongs on turf July 26, and the $200,000 Arlington Sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass Aug. 23.

"We're looking at the two Arlington races for him and a Del Mar race with him," said Calhoun. "I don't know if we'll make all of them or not."

Calhoun said the goal with Mr. Nightlinger is the new $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. The horse is unbeaten in turf sprints, having won the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland in April, the Grade 3 Aegon Turf Sprint at Churchill on May 2, and the optional claimer on Wednesday, for which he earned a Beyer of 101.

"I thought it was very important to run out of his own stall one more time, because I think now we've got to ship," said Calhoun. "We're trying to keep him fresh for the year-end goal of going to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint."

Mr. Nightlinger races for Martin Racing Stable and Carl Moore Management.

More turf for Golden Yank

Golden Yank is back at his Lone Star base after running second in the Grade 3, $200,000 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs on June 14. It was the horse's second start on turf, and he closed from next-to-last to finish four lengths behind wire-to-wire winner Tizdejavu.

"He ran real good," said Gary Thomas, who trains Golden Yank. "Nobody went with that horse."

Golden Yank ran second in the $100,000 USA Stakes at Lone Star in his turf debut on May 26. Thomas said the horse could remain on the grass for his next start. He said he is seriously considering the Grade 2, $250,000 American Derby at Arlington Park on July 12.

Tortuga Flats invades for turf allowance

Tortuga Flats invades from Louisiana Downs for Sunday's featured sixth race, a 7 1/2-furlong turf allowance for fillies and mares. She will be seeking her second win at the meet following a five-furlong turf-sprint score on April 25.

Following that race, Tortuga Flats won the $50,000 Seven Stars at a mile on turf at Louisiana Downs on May 17.

* A benefit poker tournament played on horseback will be held Monday at Loyd Park off Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie. The tourney benefits the Don MacBeth Memorial Fund.

* Crib Kicker shoots for her fifth straight win when she runs in Sunday's fourth race.