05/08/2002 12:00AM

Two outsiders to watch


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Bay Monster and Holdthehelm are two colts with the credentials to take a significant step forward Saturday in the Grade 3, $500,000 Lone Star Derby at Lone Star Park.

Both were at a disadvantage in their last starts, coming off of six week layoffs for the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles April 13, but are on more regular schedules for the Lone Star Derby.

Bay Monster finished in a dead heat for third with Windward Passage in the Arkansas Derby, despite being forced to miss the prep for the race, the Grade 3 Rebel on March 23, because of a cold.

"I was definitely behind the eight-ball [for the Arkansas Derby]," said Steve Wren, who trains Bay Monster.

"I would have much rather run in the Rebel, and although I thought he ran a super race in the Arkansas Derby, I think he would have had been closer had I had a prep with him."

Holdthehelm came up with a foot abscess while preparing for the Grade 2 Spiral at Turfway Park on March 23, and the missed race left him with a seven-week break. He finished a troubled fifth in the Arkansas Derby.

Holdthehelm showed promise as a 2-year-old last December, when he won an entry-level allowance at Santa Anita over a 1 1/16 miles in a sharp 1:42.44. He severed an artery after that race, which delayed his progress.

"He just hasn't had any real luck since that race in December," said Paul Assinesi, who trains Holdthehelm. "This is the first race he's trained perfect for, and it wouldn't surprise me if he took that same type of step up [in the Lone Star Derby] he showed in December. He couldn't be doing better now.

"This race is falling into place with his work pattern. It wouldn't surprise me if my horse had his day."

Holdthehelm drilled five furlongs from the gate in 1:00 on May 1, working without blinkers. He will run without blinkers Saturday. He will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.

Holdthehelm is scheduled to fly to Lone Star on Thursday with Tracemark, winner of the Grade 3 California Derby. Bay Monster arrived Wednesday from Kentucky on a flight that also carried Smoked Em, Windward Passage, Peekskill, Wiseman's Ferry, and Jeremiah Jack for the Lone Star Derby.

Danthebluegrassman, who was expected to be on the flight from Kentucky, will pass the race after his trainer, Bob Baffert, was not pleased with how the colt came out of his work Tuesday.

Prep for $100,000 Valid Expectations

Southern Tour, winner of the $100,000 Carousel Breeders' Cup last out at Oaklawn, meets Little Angel on Little Angel's favorite track Friday night in the eighth race, a six-furlong allowance for fillies and mares worth $40,000.

The race is expected to produce starters for the $100,000 Valid Expectations, one of seven stakes that will make up Lone Star Million Day on May 27.

Southern Tour is looking for her third straight win Friday. She won a conditioned allowance by 8 1/2 lengths March 21, then returned to defeat multiple stakes winner Spanish Glitter by 2 1/2 lengths in the Carousel.

She has trained well since the race, and has a hot trainer-jockey combo in Cole Norman and Anthony Lovato, who won 10 races together last week at Lone Star.

Little Angel has a 4-for-7 record over the main track at Lone Star, and two starts back was a sharp allowance winner here. Deirdre Panas has the mount for trainer Gilbert Ciavaglia.