04/23/2008 11:00PM

Texas Mile tops quartet of stakes

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The Lone Star Park meet, which opened three weeks ago, will rev up the intensity on Saturday with a card of four stakes led by the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile. The race drew a cast of six older horses, including Monterey Jazz, who flew in Thursday from Southern California; Zanjero, who is on hand from Kentucky; and Going Ballistic, a local on the verge of becoming a millionaire. Scrappy Roo, the winner of the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally earlier this month at Sam Houston, adds further depth, as he is seeking his sixth consecutive win.

The Texas Mile will be supported by three $50,000 stakes, including the Irving Distaff, which drew 11 fillies and mares. The four stakes are worth a cumulative $450,000, and they should produce starters for the Lone Star Million Day program here May 26.

Monterey Jazz could run in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont that afternoon with the right kind of performance in the Texas Mile. He appears to have much going for him Saturday, even though he is making a rare start on dirt and his first start outside of California.

"Hopefully, he'll answer a lot of these questions for us in a positive way," said Craig Dollase, who trains Monterey Jazz.

Monterey Jazz should be a strong favorite. An extremely quick horse, he will look to control the pace against closers Zanjero and Going Ballistic. He also has class appeal as the smashing winner of the Grade 2 Strub at Santa Anita in February. That made him the favorite in the last month's Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile race in which he set a quick pace and finished 12th.

"He ran a great mile and an eighth, and that last little bit, I think, just got to him," said Dollase. "And he ran a little too fresh."

David Flores, who is 3 for 3 on Monterey Jazz, will reunite with him Saturday.

Zanjero was the last-to-first winner of the Grade 2 Indiana Derby in his most recent out Oct. 6. He banked $1 million last year while running first, second, or third in seven graded stakes.

"I could have run him in the Alysheba or the Ben Ali [in Kentucky], but they're $150,000 and the Texas Mile is $300,000," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Zanjero. "He had a pretty good year last year chasing money."

Shaun Bridgmohan has the mount.