02/20/2008 12:00AM

Turf War slightly hurt in Southwest


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Turf War, who finished ninth as the favorite in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday, overreached and cut his right front heel in the race, according to his trainer, Mark Casse.

"He's fine," he said. "He grabbed himself a little at the start when he broke in."

Casse said Turf War was at Fair Grounds on Wednesday, and is soon scheduled to ship back to Ocala, Fla. The horse traveled to Oaklawn from Ocala, where he had turned in a series of strong works for the Southwest. The Southwest was his first start since winning the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot in a dead heat at Delta Downs in December.

"We're going to bring him home, give him a week or so and see how he is, and go from there," said Casse. "We'll come up with a strategy."

Casse said next-race possibilities for Turf War include the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End at Turfway Park on March 22, and the $600,000 WinStar Derby, which will be run at Sunland Park on March 16.

Turf War raced 25 lengths behind the pace in the Southwest, launched a wide move on the turn and finished 8 1/4 lengths behind winner Denis of Cork. Turf War earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 81. He is a full brother to Travers runner-up Grasshopper, and last year won the $125,000 Swynford Stakes at Woodbine.

Cella, Partee joining Arkansas Hall

Charles Cella, the president of Oaklawn, and the late W. Cal Partee, who raced the 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee, will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame on Friday night. The ceremonies will be at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, Ark.

Partee's accomplishments in racing are highlighted by Lil E. Tee's sweeping, one-length win in the Kentucky Derby. Partee purchased the horse as a 2-year-old, and was determined to make the deal happen, said Lynn Whiting, who trained Lil E. Tee for Partee.

"I flew to Florida, watched him train for two days, and made them an offer and they didn't take it," Whiting said of Lil E. Tee. "I called Mr. Partee, and I said, 'He's got all the tools. He can be any kind of horse.' He said, 'Give them what they want.' So, we got him bought."

Lil E. Tee ran second by a neck to Pine Bluff in the Arkansas Derby before taking the Kentucky Derby. He came back and ran as a 4-year-old, launching his season in a six-furlong allowance race at Oaklawn in February 1993. He was a strong favorite in what turned out to be a dramatic, popular comeback race.

"He was trapped, he had no place to go, and they're coming to the eighth pole and my heart was in my mouth," said Whiting. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh,' this horse is going to get beat. He has nowhere to go."

Jockey Pat Day soon found room, and Lil E. Tee went about his business with authority.

"He just exploded and ran by those horses in 1:08 and 3," said Whiting. "He had quite a turn of foot."

Whiting plans to be on hand for the Hall ceremonies. Day is also expected to attend.

Cella boosted the purse of the Arkansas Derby to $1 million in 2004, and since then the race has been won by Smarty Jones, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby; Afleet Alex; Lawyer Ron; and the reigning Horse of the Year, Curlin. Cella won an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2004, and he also raced Northern Spur, champion turf horse in 1995.

* She's Impossible, a winner of 3 of her last 4 starts, will step up in class in Friday's featured ninth, a $40,000 optional claimer at six furlongs. Her rivals include Golden Thief and Grand in Grey.