07/15/2008 12:00AM

Willow O Wisp gets first taste of Texas


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Willow O Wisp has been purchased out of Southern California with an eye toward the turf stakes in this region, and his first local appearance will come Saturday in the $50,000 Bob Johnson Memorial at Lone Star Park.

Nathan Wallis is the new trainer of Willow O Wisp, who was a private purchase by his brother, Brian Wallis. The deal closed about six weeks ago, and the horse has settled in at Lone Star.

"He seems happy," said Nathan Wallis. "He's an older horse - we thought we might be able to get him and do some good in our little area. We were just looking for some horses to run here."

Willow O Wisp is a 6-year-old winner of $702,768, with his biggest victories coming in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby and La Jolla Handicap, both in 2005. In his most recent start, Willow O Wisp was a half-length winner of a $62,500 claiming race at a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on May 3. For the effort, he earned a Beyer Figure of 93. Wallis said he and his brother had considered a couple of other turf horses before settling on Willow O Wisp.

"We liked this horse because he had been running in the toughest company," said Wallis, noting that the horse was beaten just three-quarters of a length by The Tin Man in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in 2007.

Richard Eramia has the mount in the Bob Johnson. Wallis, who is 36, said he keeps a small stable at Lone Star in part because his family lives in Fort Worth. He also has 19 juveniles in training in Florida.

"I always have a couple horses here, because my dad and them like to come up here and watch," said Wallis.

After the Bob Johnson, Wallis said, plans are to point Willow O Wisp for some upcoming stakes at Louisiana Downs, including the $200,000 Unbridled Handicap at a mile on turf on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 20.

Brownie Points may try synthetic

Brownie Points is a multiple stakes winner on dirt and turf, and now her next frontier might be a synthetic surface. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel said that races on Polytrack are among the upcoming options for Brownie Points, the winner of the Grade 3, $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff at Lone Star in May.

In her last start, she finished a fast-closing second in the Grade 3, $150,000 Locust Grove at Churchill Downs.

"We have talked about looking at a Polytrack race or two," said Von Hemel, who trains Brownie Points for Pin Oak Stable.

Brownie Points earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 102 for her effort in the Locust Grove.

No King of Speed to stand in way

Slew by Slew is one of three starters in Thursday night's seventh race, a $35,000 optional claimer at a mile on turf, who finally get away from King of Speed, who went 4 for 4 this meet at Lone Star and has since shipped to Kentucky. The others are Precious Colony and Mr. Shock and Awe, whose loss to King of Speed snapped a four-race win streak.

King of Speed's absence is good news for a horse like Slew by Slew, who finished closest to him when beaten a half-length at this distance and level on turf May 30. Don Pettinger has the mount for Von Hemel.