06/10/2003 11:00PM

Texas owners enjoy hitting long-distance stakes double


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, prominent owners from Texas, pulled a cross-country stakes double last Saturday when Posse won the Grade 2 Riva Ridge at Belmont, and Bluegrass Sara won the $138,200 fillies division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity at Lone Star Park.

Steve Asmussen trains both horses for the Heiligbrodts, who also own Lady Tak.

An exciting future awaits Posse after he ran down Midas Eyes for a nose win in the Riva Ridge. His long-term goal is the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"The tools that we plan on using to get him there are the Kings Bishop, and probably the Phoenix," said Asmussen. "I can't tell you how proud I was of him [Saturday]."

A 3-year-old son of Silver Deputy, Posse has been talented from the start. He won his maiden at Keeneland by 13 1/2 lengths, then two starts later took the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup.

He ended up closing out his 2-year-old season with a pair of uncharacteristic eighth-place finishes in stakes, but seems to have the look of a new horse at 3.

"He's always been brilliant," said Asmussen. "He went through a huge growth spurt last fall - he went from being a nice-sized, strong horse to just this big monster of a beautiful animal.

"I think that I didn't acknowledge the growth spurt he was going through, and he got a little clumsy and he lost his confidence. Once we got him back on his feet, we've seen the real Posse."

The Riva Ridge was Posse's third straight win in a streak that dates back to April, when he won the Grade 3 Lafayette at Keeneland. Following that race, he won the Matt Winn at Churchill.

Posse, a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Green Fee, has won 6 of 12 starts and $489,581.

Bluegrass Sara to Silver Spur?

Bluegrass Sara ran her record to 2 for 2 when she drove to a 2 1/2-length win in the Sales Futurity. Bred by the Heiligbrodts, she is a half-sister to 2-year-old stakes winner Richbabe.

Asmussen said Bluegrass Sara could start next in the $75,000 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup at Lone Star on July 12. And, since she is a Texas-bred, her goals also include the Friendship at Louisiana Downs and the Bara Lass at Sam Houston.

"Her sister won both of those races," said Asmussen. "Maybe the Futurity was a bonus."

Turf next for Private Emblem

Private Emblem, fourth last out in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap, will be pointed for some New York-bred races on turf this summer, said Asmussen.

"His family's had a lot of success on turf, and that's what I want to explore. He is 1 for 1 on the turf - he won the Black Gold at the Fair Grounds - and his half-sister was the New York-bred turf mare of the year last year."

Rhum earned top turf female honors among New York-breds, while Private Emblem was voted the state's champion 3-year-old. He won the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby, and has earned $676,340.

Strawbailey drops into allowance

Strawbailey, who managed to get up for fifth in the Grade 3, $200,000 WinStar Distaff last out despite not liking the soft turf, moves back to the allowance ranks Friday night for the ninth race at Lone Star.

With a good performance in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares, she could advance to the $50,000 Honeymoon at Louisiana Downs.

Strawbailey should be closer to the pace than she was in the WinStar, when she raced in ninth early behind pacesetter and winner Eagle Lake.

"She never picked up the bit the first half-mile," said Joe Offolter, who trains Strawbailey. "She was way back and I thought, 'oh boy,' and then she kind of started to pick them up. She put in a decent run down the lane."

A winner on dirt and turf, Strawbailey will be racing on her preferred surface Friday.

"Every time you hang a bridle on her, she gives you a good effort, [but] I think she's a notch above on turf," said Offolter, who has given the mount to Cliff Berry.

The chief threats are Janeian, second last out in an entry-level allowance at Hollywood Park, and Golden Rhythm.

* Full Spectrum arrived Wednesday for the $50,000 Miller Lite, a five-furlong turf race for fillies and mares Saturday. In her last start, she won the $100,000 Mamzelle at Churchill. Trainer Tom Amoss said she will be ridden by Gerard Melancon.