05/12/2002 11:00PM

Wiseman's Ferry is O'Callaghan's latest

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Wiseman's Ferry, winner of the Grade 3, $500,000 Lone Star Derby last Saturday, is the latest in a long line of successful European imports for trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

O'Callaghan recommended the private purchase of from Ireland last year, and in his third North American start, Wiseman's Ferry won the Lone Star Derby. The win came less than a month after the O'Callaghan-trained Hail the Chief, another European purchase, won the Grade 3 National Jockey Club Handicap by 11 1/4 lengths at Sportsman's Park.

O'Callaghan's other European success stories include Grade 2 winners Tijiyr, Keats, and Volochine; Grade 3 winner Generous Rosi; and stakes winner Miss Caerleona.

Hail the Chief is heading back to Chicago for the Grade 2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup on May 18, while plans for Wiseman's Ferry are pending. The races O'Callaghan is considering for the colt are the Belmont Stakes on June 8; the $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows on July 5; and the Grade 2, $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on July 20.

O'Callaghan travels overseas to inspect horses about three times a year. He follows the international scene closely, and is well-versed on company lines as he watches races from Ireland, England, and France.

"I happen to be from Europe, and I do follow racing there with great interest," said O'Callaghan. "Every day I follow the races on the computuer. I also talk to people over there quite regularly."

In addition to looking for talented turf runners, O'Callaghan keeps an eye out for horses that might make a successful transition from turf racing to dirt racing. He takes into account running style and pedigree.

Wiseman's Ferry, he noted, is by dirt influence Hennessy, as is Keats, who won the Grade 2 Lexington last year for O'Callaghan.

Tracemark may try Belmont

Tracemark, who rallied for second in the Lone Star Derby, may run next in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Craig Dollase said.

"We were really happy with his race," Dollase said. "He was the only one closing at the end. A mile and a half might suit him."

Dollase said he would monitor how Tracemark trains the next few weeks. Tracemark, a son of Belmont winner Conquistador Cielo, flew back to his Hollywood Park base on Sunday.

Plans for Five Straight

There is an outside chance Five Straight, who won an allowance race last Saturday, could make his next start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on May 27.

"We're thinking about it," said Wes Hawley, who trains Five Straight. "It depends who goes in the race. If it comes up with a local field, we might have to take a shot."

Last year, Five Straight ran fifth in the Lone Star Park Handicap, which was won by Dixie Dot Com.

Seainsky, an impressive maiden winner for Hawley earlier this meet, finished a troubled second in an allowance last Sunday and will make his stakes debut in the $200,000 Diamond "USA" Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on turf May 27.

"He does things with such ease," said Hawley.

Norman overtakes Asmussen

Lone Star will enter the week without Steve Asmussen atop the trainer standings for the first time since May 31, 1999. Cole Norman won with three of his starters last Saturday to overtake Asmussen, who has been in command of the standings for the past three years.

Norman leads Asmussen 27 wins to 23 in a race that figures to be tight. The meet runs through July 14.

* Rumbleinthejungle, a full brother to stakes winner The Gray Eagle, won the $56,700 Manor Downs Thoroughbred Futurity by 11 1/4 lengths last Saturday. He is eligible for the $100,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup at Lone Star on July 13.

* Lone Star handled $1,505,935 on the Lone Star Derby, setting a single-race wagering record for Texas. Overall, handle on the 11-race card Saturday was $4,667,929, a 23 percent increase over the corresponding program a year ago. Attendance on Saturday was 10,043.