06/30/2002 11:00PM

Two sharp closers vie in stakes


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Matanzas Creek, who has won his last three races, and Ole Rebel, who is 3-for-4 in his career, both make their stakes debut Wednesday night in the $100,000 Alysheba Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park.

The seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds tops a 10-race card that will begin earlier than usual at 5 p.m. Central to accommodate a fireworks display after the races. Last year, the fireworks show drew 30,462.

Matanzas Creek ships in from Churchill Downs, where he has won his last two starts in impressive fashion. He has been flattered repeatedly since, with the second- and third-place finishers from both of those races returning to win their next starts. Prior to his Churchill wins, Matanzas Creek won his maiden at Oaklawn Park.

A strong closer, he is trained by Bob Holthus and will be ridden in the Alysheba by Jon Court.

Gerard Melancon will ride the Lone Star-based Ole Rebel, who beat some of his Alysheba rivals in his last start May 27 when he won a wide- open allowance by two lengths. He showed a new dimension in that race when he came from off the pace.

"I thought he was awesome in his last race," said Andrew Leggio, who trains Ole Rebel for Glen Warren. "We tried to get him to lay off the speed and he did it just fine and won easily. He's pretty versatile right now."

Ole Rebel won his maiden at Fair Grounds in March, and also took a conditioned allowance at Lone Star in April.

Other contenders Wednesday are Premeditation, second last out to Ole Rebel; Paloma Parilla, winner of a division of the $75,000 Southwest at Oaklawn; De Real Deal, who cuts back to one turn, and the capable Lott, who invades from Churchill for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Asmussen regains meet lead

A week after taking the lead in the national trainer standings, Asmussen took back the lead in the Lone Star standings when he won four races on the nine-race card Sunday. He now leads Cole Norman in the local standings, 71 wins to 70.

Asmussen won the fourth with Total Anticipation ($3.80), the fifth with Goodness ($6.80), the seventh with Kris's Sleigh ($4.80), and the ninth with Anguished Thespian ($4.40).

He was to be honored as Lone Star's most valuable player for the third straight year Monday night at a banquet put on by the Dallas All Sports Association.

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