06/13/2002 12:00AM

Suances tough to topple in Turf Cup


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Suances, who returned to top form in April with a front-running win in the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup, launches his summer campaign Saturday at Lone Star Park in the $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup, a race his connections hope will serve as a stepping-stone to the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Aug. 17.

The Turf Cup, a handicap run over 1 1/8 miles, is the first leg of a national pick three, along with the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks and the Grade 1 Stephen Foster.

Racing has come easy for Suances, a winner of seven races in nine career starts, and the 118-pound highweight in Saturday's nine-horse field. He finished third in his debut in Spain, then reeled off six straight wins, culminating with a six-length route in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat in France in June 2000.

Soon afterward, Suances's development hit a roadblock when he severed a hind leg ligament preparing for the American Derby at Arlington. He did not return to the races until March 2002 as a 5-year-old, and finished 10th in the Grade 2 Explosive Bid at Fair Grounds.

Suances came back in his next start to defeat the Explosive Bid winner, Sarafan, in the San Francisco under regular rider David Flores. He is owned by Red Baron's Barn and is trained by Darrell Vienna, who purchased him in Europe a week before the Jean Prat.

"I think he's one of the best turf horses in the country, if not the best," said Scott Chaney, assistant to Vienna. "We are extremely confident in his abilities."

Suances was flown to Dallas Thursday with Our Main Man, who also invades for the Turf Cup. In his last three starts Our Main Man has run second or third in 1 1/2-mile races, and turns back in distance Saturday. "[The turnback] doesn't bother me too much," said Grant Hofmans, who trains Our Main Man. "He's a pretty aggressive horse."

Candid Glen is one of seven locals trying to keep the Turf Cup purse home. He is a three-time stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles on turf, and has gotten more serious with age. "His mentality is better this year," said trainer Andrew Leggio. "He had a lot of play on his mind last year. This year, he's a little more professional."

Other capable locals include Nat's Big Party, third in this race last year; and the Cole Norman-trained entry of Unrullah Bull and Chauffe Au Rouge, who are cross-entered in the 10th race at Lone Star.

The Turf Cup will be shown on CBS between 5-6 p.m. Eastern.

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