04/03/2008 12:00AM

Student Council out to prove himself on turf

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Student Council, a Grade 1 winner who has made limited starts on turf, and Going Ballistic, who ran third in a Grade 1 the last time he ran on the grass, appear to be the top contenders Saturday night in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park.

The 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up is the richest race of the meet. It will be supported by two other $50,000 grass stakes. Saturday is closing night of the Sam Houston meet.

A field of eight will start in the Connally, which also drew Embossed, a multiple Grade 3 winner on turf; Scrappy Roo, who has won his last four starts; and Firerock Base, a winner of his last three races.

But the horse to beat is Student Council, who was sixth last out in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. Last fall, he won both the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on a synthetic surface at Del Mar and the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup on dirt at Hawthorne Race Course. On Saturday, the goal is to get Student Council, a son of Kingmambo and the Kris S. mare Class Kris, a graded stakes win on turf.

"I think he's a very versatile horse," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Student Council for Millennium Farms. "I think his pedigree suggests it's within his realm, and I'm hoping to be able to use the Connally as a prep for the Woodford Reserve."

The Woodford Reserve is a Grade 1 turf race on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

Student Council, whose best finish on turf is a third from four starts, tests out the Sam Houston course for the first time Saturday. He will be ridden by Quincy Hamilton.

"The horse is very manageable but sharp, and the turf course at Houston, I'm expecting to suit him well," Asmussen said.

Going Ballistic last raced on turf in August, closing for third in the Secretariat at Arlington Park. In his most recent start, he rallied for third in the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn on March 8.

"It was a good race against tough older horses," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Going Ballistic. "I thought with Jonesboro controlling the race the way he did, that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion how the outcome was going to be. But he put in a good run at the end and I think we're ready for a big race."

Cliff Berry has the mount on Going Ballistic.

Golden Hare seeks eighth straight win

Golden Hare, a front-runner who has won his last seven starts, tops the $50,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint.

"It's a tough, tough race," said Asmussen, who has given the mount to Jose Figueroa. "There's a lot of speed in there."

Others in the field for the five-furlong race are multiple stakes winners Smitty's Sunshine, a mare, and Orphan Brigade.

* New Edition will have to overcome post 12 when she makes her first start since October in the $50,000 Jersey Lily. The 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares also drew the sharp Pleasantly Blessed.