08/31/2007 11:00PM

Wanted: Street Sense in Mass Cap


Some racehorses are at their best when they have a target to go after. The same could be said for Suffolk Downs officials as they try to land this year's Massachusetts Handicap headliner.

When the $300,000 Mass Cap comes back Sept. 22 to the East Boston, Mass., track, it will be after a two-year absence and it will be ungraded. In 1995, when the race was run after a five-year absence, Suffolk officials initiated a bonus system that landed Cigar, who was in the midst of a 16-race winning streak.

This year, they are using a bonus system to target Kentucky Derby and Travers winner Street Sense. Hopes are high that the 3-year-old star can be lured to Suffolk and they were buoyed when trainer Carl Nafzger listed the Mass Cap as one of his options soon after Street Sense's Travers victory.

"We are obviously very excited that Carl has expressed an interest in our race," said Chip Tuttle, two weeks into his role as the track's chief operating officer. "From Seabiscuit and Whirlaway to Skip Away and Cigar, Boston has always provided a warm welcome for racing's greats."

Handicapping Nafzger's plans is no picnic, but Tuttle and others at Suffolk think the combination of the 1 1/8-mile distance, older-horse competition, and timing five weeks ahead of the Breeders' Cup Classic would be very appealing to the Street Sense team. And don't expect weight assignments to be a stumbling block in landing big names.

"We will weight the race fairly, but don't expect anyone to be toting a huge impost," said Tuttle. "The days of assigning weight as a badge of honor are long gone. We expect a competitive field. We've been talking to horsemen from around the country. Once nominations close, we'll have a better idea who is likely to come."

Street Sense would get a $200,000 bonus based on his two Grade 1 wins this year. There also is a $100,000 bonus for any horse with a combination of one Grade 1 win at a mile or more and any other graded stakes win in 2007. It's the added-money formula Suffolk used in the 1990s to lure Horses of the Year Cigar and Skip Away while waiting for the race's Grade 2 status to be reinstated.

"The response from horsemen has been great," he said. "They're happy to have the race back on the calendar. They're intrigued by the bonus. We don't have the luxury of having horses on the grounds who fit the race, so we have to work


Nominations for the Mass Cap Day card close Sept. 10.

Ask Queenie seeks 3rd straight Sunset Gun

Ask Queenie goes for her fourth straight win on Monday in the $45,000 Sunset Gun Stakes. She has won the Sunset Gun the last two years.

Ask Queenie beat males in the Thomas Moran Stakes on the turf in her last start. Now she gets to face only females, including regular rival Flirt for Fame - the filly she beat in this race last year.