11/28/2001 1:00AM

Texan Juvenile attracts another promising field


The $150,000 Texan Juvenile, the premier race for 2-year-olds at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, is building a reputation for turning out quality horses. In four runnings, the race has produced four Triple Crown starters, and for Saturday night's renewal, a promising field of 11 has been entered, led by French Assault.

The most notable Juvenile graduate is Fifty Stars. He won last year's running, then went on to capture the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby before finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby. He has earned $676,210.

Also coming out of last year's race was Jamaican Rum, who finished fourth as the favorite before going on to run second in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby and sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

Other Texan Juvenile graduates include $563,230 earner Snuck In, the 1999 winner who went on to capture the Grade 3 Rebel and later ran fifth in the Preakness, and Thomas Jo, who was second in the inaugural running and returned to win two stakes in Maryland before finishing third in the Belmont.

French Assault should go favored in this year's Juvenile by virtue of his close sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 27. Trainer Keith Desormeaux has given the mount to E.J. Perrodin.

Adding to the field's depth is Private Emblem, second as the favorite in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for statebreds at Belmont Park on Oct. 20, and Richest Half, unbeaten in two starts for Sam Houston's leading owner, Nelson Bunker Hunt. Both are trained by Steve Asmussen, who also trains Fifty Stars and Snuck In.

Also set to start is California invader Dial a Hero, who in his last start finished fourth in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue. Trainer Joe Parga has given the mount to Danny Sorenson.

In addition to the Juvenile, which will be broadcast by tape delay on ESPN2 on Sunday, eight other stakes, with total purses of $625,000, are planned for Saturday night. The eight remaining stakes are restricted to accredited Texas-breds. The richest of the eight is the $100,000 Star of Texas.

Advance wagering on Saturday's races will be available all day Friday at Sam Houston. Special post for the first race Saturday night is 5 p.m.

Superpave returns in Spirit of Texas

Superpave, who won the first five starts of his career as a 2-year-old last year, including the $100,000 Middleground Stakes and $65,000 Texas Open Futurity, will return from a one-year layoff Saturday night in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston.

A gelding, Superpave has not raced since finishing 10th in last year's Groovy Stakes, which was held on Texas Champions Day.

"He's had some nice breezes in Kentucky, and we've fine-tuned him here at Fair Grounds in the last month," said trainer Al Stall Jr., who took over Superpave's training earlier this year. "His owner, Peter Wilson, says he has grown some since last year. He said he's a much bigger horse than he was at 2."

Mystery Storm to Texas

Kentucky-based stallions Mystery Storm, El Amante, and Cat's Career will move to Texas next week to be part of a new 200-acre breeding farm venture headed by Dr. Jim Ward, president of the Texas Thoroughbred Association, and horseman Charles Weston. Also making up the new crew will be the Texas-based The Prime Minister.

Ward and Weston have leased a portion of the former Straus Medina Ranch near San Antonio for their operation, and in addition to standing stallions, they will offer sales prepping services and initial breaking and training. Weston is the former manager of Straus Medina.

Mystery Storm, a Grade 3 winner of $325,580, comes from Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., and will stand for $5,000. El Amante was also at Spendthrift, and will stand for $2,500. Cat's Career, who will stand for $3,500, was imported from Airdrie Stud. All will stand for the syndicates they were owned by in Kentucky.

o Sam Houston-based jockey Terry Stanton, who underwent surgery to insert a metal plate, two screws, and six pins in his fractured left leg Nov. 17 after being dropped by his mount in the starting gate, has been released from the hospital and hopes to make it out to the track for Texas Champions Day. He will be sidelined for at least the remainder of the meet.

o Trainer James Jones, the longtime Frank Brothers assistant who launched a public racing stable last month at Sam Houston, won his first career race Nov. 23 with Padlock ($7.40). He won again a night later with Lisa's Approval to improve his record to two wins from four starts this meet at Sam Houston.

o There will be a two-day Equine Expo featuring 30 exhibits Friday and Saturday at Sam Houston. Also this weekend is a free handicapping seminar at 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

o John Roark, a Texas-based owner who is president of both the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Texas Thoroughbred HBPA, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and is scheduled to undergo surgery Dec. 26. Because he was diagnosed early, the prognosis for his recovery is good.