07/01/2004 11:00PM

Unbeaten on turf, Topango faces eight rivals in Oaks


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - It would be an understatement to say Topango loves turf. Unbeaten on the grass in four such starts, she has won over three different courses and under two different conditions. Sunday, she will be bidding for her fifth straight win when she takes on eight others in the $100,000 Lone Star Oaks at Lone Star Park.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies is the richest of five turf races on the 10-race card. A fireworks show will follow the program, which has a special twilight post of 5 p.m. Central.

Topango comes into the Oaks following a huge win in the $50,000 Chapel Belle Stakes at Louisiana Downs on May 22. The race was her first start in eight months, and she closed with determination for a 2 1/2-length win over Yoursmineandours.

That race has since become a key one, with Yoursmineandours winning the $50,000 Lorelei at Louisiana Downs in her next start, and Outright Buck, the fourth-place finisher, returning to defeat older horses in an optional claimer, also at Louisiana Downs.

Topango has not raced since by design.

"You always worry about the dreaded bounce, but there's been pretty good time there [between races]," said John Locke, who trains Topango for H.S.B. Racing.

Topango, whose one career loss came on dirt in her debut, won her maiden over the Lone Star turf course last July, then followed that victory with an allowance score and a front-running win in the $100,000 La Senorita at Retama Park on Aug. 30.

In the Chapel Belle, she closed from next to last, and her versatility should serve her well in the Oaks.

"Depending on how fast the pace is, we hope to sit off the leaders," said Locke. "If the pace is slow, she wouldn't mind being on the lead."

Cliff Berry, who rode Topango in her maiden win, reunites with her Sunday.

Kurlicue figures to set the pace in the Oaks. She was prominent for much of the $79,000 Bay Meadows Oaks last out, finishing second to Crozet. Prior to that race she won a $100,000 optional claiming race at Hollywood Park on May 6. Leading rider Eddie Martin Jr. has the mount for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Others of note in the Oaks include America America, the well-traveled filly whose biggest career win came last year against male rivals in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile. In her most recent start, America America was second in the $44,000 Oliver at a mile on turf at Indiana Downs.

The Oaks is scheduled to be one of her final career starts, as she has been bred to El Prado, according to her owner and trainer, Franck Mourier.