04/11/2002 11:00PM

Turf allowance comes up stakes-quality


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The first turf stakes race at Lone Star Park for older male route horses doesn't take place until June 15, when the $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup is run.

The void in the stakes calendar doesn't translate to a void in quality turf racing. On Sunday a talented field of eight turf runners goes in the ninth race, a $40,000 allowance at a 1 1/16 miles on grass.

Although an allowance, it might as well be a stakes. Run under open allowance conditions, it offers the quality a stakes normally would - minus a rich purse and black type.

The standout of the field is Candid Glen, who last month finished fifth in the Grade 2 Explosive Bid Handicap at Fair Grounds. Dismissed at 74-1 against a blockbuster field, Candid Glen performed admirably and closed within 3 1/2 lengths of victorious Sarafan at the finish.

Before that performance, he was a game winner of the Connally Breeders' Cup at Sam Houston. Overall, he is 6 for 22 with earnings of nearly $550,000. E. J. Perrodin rides for trainer Andy Leggio and owner Glen Warren.

Heading the opposition are two more stakes winners, Nat's Big Party and Coach Rags. Nat's Big Party won the Retama Turf Cup last summer, and Coach Rags is a multiple stakes winner vs. Louisiana-breds.

Nat's Big Party, from the barn of leading trainer Steve Asmussen, finished three-quarters of a length behind Candid Glen when he last raced, in the Feb. 23 Connally Breeders Cup. He was moved up from third to second on a disqualification. Corey Lanerie has the mount.

Coach Rags, meanwhile, comes off a productive Fair Grounds campaign that included a victory in the Dixie Poker Ace Handicap on March 3.

Keats pointed for Texas Mile

The Grade 3 Texas Mile, which in past years featured such notable graded stakes winners as Skip Away, Real Quiet, and Dixie Dot Com, is already attracting interest for this year's renewal.

Trainer Niall O'Callaghan is pointing Keats, winner of last year's Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, for the April 27 race. Keats comes off a third-place finish in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap.

O'Callaghan said he favors the Texas Mile over the April 21 Ben Ali Handicap at Keeneland. The $300,000 purse is richer than that of the $100,000 Ben Ali, and a mile fits Keats's front-running style, O'Callaghan said.

Other possibles for the Texas Mile at this early juncture include Irisheyesareflying, Remington Rock, and Mr Ross.

Jeanette Hughes, Lone Star's assistant racing secretary, said she received a positive response from horsemen when recruiting horses in California last week, and anticipates shippers from a couple West Coast stables.

Asmussen on top

Five days into the meet, the trainer standings at Lone Star Park mirror the national standings, at least at the top. Steve Asmussen, the nation's top trainer in victories with 115 through Thursday, is first in the local standings with 10 victories.

Asmussen, the leading trainer at Lone Star the last three years, won a race here Thursday evening, and nearly won two. Asmussen's Hey Woody won the eighth race, improving his record to 10 for 32. Conditional Love, another Asmussen runner, won the second race but was disqualified for interference.

Trainers Bret Calhoun and Sam David are second and third in the standings, with four winners and three winners.

Trainer Cole Norman, on his way to a training title at Oaklawn Park, has his first starter of the meet, Dynacard, entered in Sunday's eighth race. Last year he finished second to Asmussen while compiling a 74-for-171 record.

St. Jullien, Bourque 1-2

Marlon St. Julien and Curt Bourque are first and second in the jockey standings.

St. Julien, the leading rider here in 1998, has been successful since shifting his tack from Oaklawn Park, scoring eight victories.

Bourque is second with five wins, following by Cliff Berry, Alex Jimenez, and Ronald Ardoin with three wins apiece.

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