02/15/2002 1:00AM

Two improving colts throw hats into Southwest ring


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The field for the $75,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 2 grew by two on Thursday when Bay Monster won the allowance feature and King Zonic won his maiden by 10 lengths. Both colts will point for the one-mile Southwest, which is the first of two local preps for the $500,000 Arkansas Derby on April 13.

Bay Monster, second to eventual Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Repent in a maiden race last September, and King Zonic, a half-brother to millionaire Silver Goblin, should be part of a full field in the Southwest. Other local colts pointing to the race include Rylstone, Cojet, Richest Half, Fisher Station, Explosive Truth, Paloma Parilla, and Interminable Gold. In addition, the Fair Grounds-based Clergy and Private Emblem are possible for the Southwest.

The most accomplished of the locals is Rylstone, a son of Mecke who last raced Jan. 18. Although he has made his mark on turf, winning his maiden in the $75,000 Manila at Arlington and taking a conditioned allowance last out at Fair Grounds, he worked a strong six furlongs over the local strip last Tuesday in 1:13.40.

"I think he'll handle the main track," said trainer Lynn Whiting, who won the Southwest in 1985 with Clever Allemont. "He established his real form on the turf, but I don't envision him to be a one-dimensioned horse. His sire went both turf and dirt, and I expect that from him."

Trainer Steve Wren expects Bay Monster to improve off his Thursday win, when he raced close to the pace, overtook the leader on the final turn, and then turned back a stretch bid by Missme to win the 1 1/16-mile feature by a length. "I was impressed with the way my horse ran. He'd been off over three months," said Wren, who had a top local 3-year-old a few years ago in Etbauer.

One race after Bay Monster's victory, King Zonic led at every call to win his maiden. "He can come from off of it, too," said trainer Kenny Smith. "He's a horse that we've brought along slowly. We wanted to teach him two turns. That's one of the main reasons we brought him along slow, we wanted to teach him a few extra things.

"We put a shadow roll on him two starts ago, and this time we put some blinkers on. We've been changing slowly, one step at a time, and I think we've hit the nerve now. We're going to find out in his next race, which will probably be the Southwest."

Fisher Station surprises Baker

Fisher Station has been a pleasant surprise for trainer James Baker. The colt proved better than the $50,000 claiming price he made his debut for in November by winning back to back two-turn allowance races in his last two starts, his most recent a 4 1/2-length win over older horses Jan. 27.

"He's probably one of those improving horses, and we're going to let him dictate where to go after the Southwest," said Baker. "He's a nice little horse. He's small framed, but he's got a lot of heart. His big talent is he tries hard and he digs in hard. He could probably make up for what he lacks in size by his heart."

Paloma Parilla will make his two-turn debut in the Southwest, following his six-length romp in a recent Oaklawn allowance under jockey Marlon St. Julien. "I think from my past experience, he belongs," said trainer Larry Robideaux, who won the Southwest in 1993 with Foxtrail and in 1995 with Mystery Storm. "The other day, in my opinion, that was a super-impressive race. Marlon thought he had something left in the tank, and he thinks this colt will rate.

"Right now, we're doing a lot of preparation for that, and he's responded real well. We've put some nice long gallops in him, and getting him to where he relaxes."

o Brown Eyed Beauty, fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the opening day $50,000 Dixie Belle, adds Lasix for her second start of the meet, which comes in an allowance Sunday.