04/18/2008 12:00AM

Taptam short price versus elders


For the first few months of the year, 3-year-olds and older horses are largely kept separate in allowance events, competing in races restricted to their own age groups. Then the spring arrives, and races for 3-year-olds and up start being scheduled, and it becomes time for the youngsters to take on older opponents.

That time is Sunday for five 3-year-old fillies who will take on two 4-year-olds in the featured eighth race at Lone Star Park, a $25,000 first-level allowance at a mile on the main track.

For all five 3-year-olds, led by Oaklawn Park invader Taptam, the race marks a first start against older mares. Yet despite this obstacle, Taptam looms a prohibitive favorite.

The reason is clear. Although untested against her elders, she comes off a runner-up finish at Oaklawn Park in a better allowance field March 27, and on Sunday gets the opportunity to start in a race restricted to Texas breds.

When last in Texas-bred company, Taptam finished second in the Bara Lass Stakes at odds of 25-1 at Sam Houston Dec. 1.

Cliff Berry rides Taptam, who is trained by Donnie Von Hemel for owners Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch.

Her principal foe is Our Story, a 4-year-old filly who finished a distant third against second-level allowance runners at Sam Houston April 3.

Going Ballistic, Monterey Jazz eye Texas Mile

The stakes action at Lone Star heats up Saturday with four open stakes races, including Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile.

The 2007 Super Derby winner Going Ballistic and the 2008 Strub winner Monterey Jazz are two of the potential headliners for the Texas Mile, a race that could also attract Sing Baby Sing, who won the Bob Johnson Memorial at Lone Star last year.

In a pair of stakes scheduled for turf Saturday, Barbette and Brownie Points are possible starters for the Irving Distaff, and Bullet Brew and Red Birds Magician are prominent nominees for the Grand Prairie Turf Challenge, a race that 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville won two years ago.

Leaders, stats, etc.

Five days into the Lone Star meeting, Berry finds himself in a familiar position - atop the rider standings.

Despite going winless on Thursday evening's card, Berry was 9 for 26 heading into Friday, giving him a three-win lead over Eddie Martin Jr. and Justin Shepherd, who have six wins apiece.

Berry, the winningest rider in Lone Star history, topped the rider standings at this track in 2005 and 2006.

Meanwhile, Steve Asmussen and Tom Durant have forged ahead in the trainer and owner standings, respectively.

Lone Star Park concluded opening week with a 29 percent increase in attendance, bolstered by two post-racing concerts by country music artists Gary Allan and Miranda Lambert.

While attendance was up the four days - totaling 44,880 - total handle decreased by 5.6-percent to $7,415,715 from $7,860,992, which the track attributed partially to its simulcast signal being withheld from Internet/phone wagering outlets due to an ongoing account-wagering dispute with Texas horsemen.