04/24/2006 11:00PM

Texcess on familiar path for Mitchell


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Back in 2004, trainer Mike Mitchell sent out a then-recent purchase, Kela, to win the Texas Mile at Lone Star Park. Saturday, he will return here with another new buy, Texcess, for the Grade 3, $300,000 race. The Texas Mile will be supported by two other stakes, and Mitchell will be represented in one of them, the $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge for 3-year-olds, with recent claim Quest Venture.

Kela was making his third start for Mitchell when he stepped up and won the Texas Mile by five lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 114. Texcess will be making his fourth start for Mitchell after Carl Van Burger and Andy and Scott Anastasi purchased him for a sale-topping $300,000 at Barretts in California in January.

"I think the mile will be a good race for him," said Mitchell.

Texcess last raced on April 1 and finished second by a length to Preachinatthebar in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita. He will face Preachinatthebar again on Saturday. Since the race, Texcess has worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 at his Hollywood Park base on April 23.

"It was a very, very good work, and he galloped out the way you want a horse to gallop out," said Mitchell. "I couldn't be any more pleased with how he's doing."

Mitchell believes Texcess should be at his best between a mile and 1 1/8 miles, and because of that he might also look at the other major dirt stakes at this meet for older horses: the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap at 1 1/16 miles May 29.

"That's probably our game plan," he said. "I'll bring him back here to California, and send him back. That's probably a long-term plan. You've got a $300,000 race and a $400,000 race. Those are two nice pots."

Dixie Dot Com swept both races in 2001 when he invaded from California.

Cliff Berry, the leading rider at Lone Star, has the mount on Texcess, who traveled here Tuesday aboard a flight that also brought Preachinatthebar and Yes He's a Pistol for the Texas Mile. With a win or a second-place finish in the race, Texcess would go over $1 million in earnings.

Berry also has the mount on Quest Venture, who was claimed for $62,500 out of a turf maiden race at Gulfstream Park that he won March 17. Quest Venture is a May foal by Selkirk.

"He's a young horse that I think is going to get better with time," said Mitchell.

Others officials consider probable for the Texas Mile are Charming Socialite, Dominguin, Halos Sailing Sain, High Strike Zone, Mr. Trieste, Nakayama Kun, Play the Chime, Stockholder, and Wishingitwas.

Yes He's a Pistol may stick around

Another starter in the Texas Mile who could be looking at a two-race commitment here is Yes He's a Pistol. He is a top contender Saturday off two consecutive wins, his latest in the $85,000 Santana Mile at Santa Anita on March 12.

"If he were to handle the shipping good and run good, we probably might even leave him there" for the Lone Star Park Handicap, said Doug O'Neill, who trains Yes He's a Pistol. "But, we'll play that by ear."

O'Neill said Garrett Gomez has the mount on Yes He's a Pistol. The horse owns the highest last-race Beyer Figure among the projected starters, a 102.

Desert Wheat leans toward Challenge

Jerry Lee and trainer Tony Richey are leaning toward starting stakes winner Desert Wheat in the Turf Challenge, and they will make a final decision Thursday. The probable favorite if he goes, the colt was a four-length winner of an April 14 turf allowance at Lone Star last out in his first start since January.

"We just kind of freshened him up and gave him a little break, and he was in top form again," said Richey.

For his effort, Desert Wheat earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 91.

Richey said another option for Desert Wheat is the $50,000 John Franks Memorial for Louisiana-breds on turf at Louisiana Downs on May 5. Last year over that course he won the $50,000 Gentilly.

Rose Hunter to be bred to Point Given

Rose Hunter sustained a suspen-sory injury when pulled up during the $75,000 Irving Distaff here April 15 and has been retired, said Richey.

She is scheduled to be bred to Point Given.

Rose Hunter is a stakes winner with a 4-for-23 record and earnings of $139,085.

* Doc's Belle figures to be closer to the pace than she was in her last start in the featured eighth race Thursday night. Shut off early in the $40,000 Jersey Lilly at Sam Houston, she did well to close for sixth and has since worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds. Trainer Joe Offolter has given the mount to Quincy Hamilton.