03/02/2004 12:00AM

Yellowstone: Hungary to Hot Springs


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - How will Hungarian form transfer?

Horseplayers will have to address this unusual issue Thursday at Oaklawn Park when the consistent Yellowstone makes his North American debut in the featured eighth race.

Triton Missile and Unbridled America are the top contenders in the six-furlong money allowance that drew nine. But one has to consider Yellowstone for at least the exotics based on his consistency and a series of strong workouts at Oaklawn.

Yellowstone is moving to dirt for the first time after racing exclusively on turf at tracks in Hungary and Austria. In his last race, the winner of three of 12 starts was third in the Group 2 Imperial Dij in Budapest on Sept. 7.

"He was a nice little horse over there," said Wayne Murty, who trains Yellowstone for Teliver Farm and Margaret Berryman. "He ran with some useful horses in Hungary."

Yellowstone figures to be at his best with more distance than he travels on Thursday, but he has been competitive over 5 1/2 furlongs in the past, is fresh, and shows some sharp works for his return. Rodney Trader has the mount.

"He does everything very willingly," Murty said. "He seems like he's a good little professional."

Murty is at Oaklawn for the first time since 1958. He was a jockey agent for John Sellers that year when Sellers won the Arkansas Derby with Count DeBlanc. Murty eventually turned to training, and in 1965 began dealing in bloodstock sales with his twin brother, Duane Murty. Both were jockeys as young men.

"My brother and I have imported horses for years from other countries," Wayne Murty said.

His seven-horse stable at Oaklawn does have an international flair. Murty has another Hungarian-bred in training, and has also imported a number of horses from Argentina. Yellowstone was acquired on a recent trip to Hungary.

"I had some business over there and I went to the races," said Murty. "It's quite different than here. They don't show the [early] speed in their races that we do here. They don't come out of there flying like they do here."

Murty noted that one of the greatest horses in history was from Hungary. Kincsem won all 54 of her starts in the 1870's, when she raced in her homeland as well as in England, France, Germany, and Austria. Two statues of her stand in the paddock area at Keeneland, and according to archives from the Keeneland library, the only horse known to have won more consecutive races was Camarero, with 56. He raced in Puerto Rico in the 1950's.