Halos Sailing Sain Ready For Saturday's Grade III Texas Mile

(April 23, 2006) - Halos Sailing Sain, second to Bandini in a very fast one- mile allowance at Gulfstream Park last month, worked a half-mile in :47 4/5 at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida on Sunday, according to trainer Joseph Orseno. The 4-year-old gelding is preparing for Saturday's Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park, where he'll meet top California milers Yes He's a Pistol, Preachinatthebar and Texcess, as well as defending champ High Strike Zone and other regional stakes winners.

"I called the owners right after to tell them it was a good work and then I called my jockey to tell him the same thing," Orseno said.

"Jersey" Joe Bravo, who rode Halos Sailing Sain in two wins at Monmouth Park last year, has the call for Saturday's race. Halos Sailing Sain will fly to Texas on Monday. Orseno will attend the four-day Ocala Breeders' Sales this week and arrive in Grand Prairie either Thursday or Friday.

In his last start, Halos Sailing Sain tried the turf for the first time, finishing a close third in a starter allowance. It was two races back, however, that Halos Sailing Sain showed why he belongs in Saturday's race. In a one-mile third-level allowance that included Grade I Blue Grass Stakes winner Bandini and Grade I Metropolitan Handicap runner-up Silver Wagon, the speedy Halos Sailing Sain pressed the pace through fractions of :45 4/5 and 1:09 1/5 and held on for second, 3 3/4 lengths behind Bandini, who won in 1:34. The race looks even more impressive in retrospect, as Bandini ran away with the Grade III Skip Away Handicap in his next start and third-place finisher Wanderin Boy came back to dominate a third-level allowance field at Keeneland by 10 lengths.

"His first race back he had a terrible break, so the race against Bandini was really like his first race of the year and it was incredible," Orseno said. "He ran a 'three' on the sheets, which is a great number. If I had had a little more bottom on him for that race who knows."

Texas Mile Probables

Here's the early probable field for the Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile, for older horses at one mile, from the rail out (with known jockeys and trainers): Charming Socialite (Bill Pettit), Dominguin (Dante Zanelli Jr.), Halos Sailing Sain (Joe Bravo, Joseph Orseno), High Strike Zone (Ricky Faul, Amos Laborde), Mr. Trieste (Ken Tohill, Gary Cross), Nakayama Kun (Orlando Mojica, Akiko Gothard), Play the Chime (Jaime Castellanos), Preachinatthebar (Bob Baffert), Stockholder (Luis Quinonez, Steve Asmussen), Texcess (Cliff Berry, Mike Mitchell) and Yes He's a Pistol (Garrett Gomez, Doug O'Neill).

Another top California-based miler, Dixie Meister, remains under consideration. The Texas-bred is scheduled to work Monday at Santa Anita. The quality of the breeze will determine whether he earns a spot on the plane that leaves Tuesday morning.

Also on the fence are Commander Buck, Dreamsandvisions and Wishingitwas. Trainer Bart Evans said Wishingitwas, upset winner of the 2004 Metroplex Mile to kick off Breeders' Cup Day, "tied up a little" before leaving Florida for Lone Star earlier this month. "We'll draw blood on Monday and see how he is," Evans said.

Asmussen Will Ask Stockholder to Step Up

Trainer Steve Asmussen thinks Stockholder is ready to step up his game in Saturday's Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile. Last time out the 6-year-old son of Bertrando led gate to wire winning a $39,000 conditional allowance at Oaklawn Park by an impressive 4 1/2 lengths on April 12. The final time was 1:36.72 and the official chart comment noted that Stockholder won "with something left."

"His last race was the first time we ran him and it impressed the heck out of me," Asmussen said. "He ran awesome. I know this is deep water for him but I'm not going to wait until he slows down to try him."

Asked if Stockholder needed to be on the lead in order to run his best race, Asmussen said, "I don't think so."

Stockholder will be making his second start off an eight-month layoff. He won four races with trainer Bill Mott in New York before joining the Asmussen stable. Asmussen said Stockholder will breeze Monday at Lone Star in his first workout since the Oaklawn victory.

Defending Texas Mile Champ High Strike Zone Ready for Repeat Try

With planes arriving Monday and Tuesday to drop off the Texas Mile hopefuls of high-profile trainers like Bob Baffert and Doug O'Neill, it would be easy to overlook the Wednesday arrival of a trailer from Louisiana with a gelding who's one-for-four this year. Last time out this gelding finished third, five lengths behind the winner in an allowance race at Evangeline Downs. And yet, if what his trainer says about him rounding back into form is true, defending Texas Mile champ High Strike Zone is a serious threat to repeat against another deep field in one of Lone Star Park's signature events.

"He's been working pretty darn good," trainer Amos Laborde said. "He's about back to his old self again. We turned him out, gave him some time off, and now he's coming back around. It'd be a great honor to go back and win a race like that again."

High Strike Zone certainly looked like his old self two starts back at Evangeline, setting a track record for six furlongs in 1:08.97. It was his only win of 2006, though the 6-year-old gelding did hit the board in a pair of one-mile stakes at Evangeline.

High Strike Zone was 7-1 when he upset last year's Texas Mile and figures to be longer odds this year against a bigger and deeper field.

"You've always got to worry about who else will be there," Laborde said. "But last year was a pretty tough field and he handled it."

The trainer said regular jockey Ricky Faul will be back in the irons for Saturday's race.

Workout/Travel Updates - Texcess worked six furlongs Sunday in 1:12 4/5, handily, at Hollywood Park, third-fastest of 35 works at the distance...Halos Sailing Sain worked four furlongs in :47 4/5 at the Palm Meadows training center, according to trainer Joseph Orseno...Dominguin will breeze at Lone Star Park on Monday at 8:30 a.m. following the renovation break...Stockholder is also scheduled to work Monday at Lone Star...Dixie Meister will work Monday at Santa Anita...Mr. Trieste will leave Sunland Park by van on Tuesday.

Grand Prairie Turf Challenge Probables

Here are the early probables for Saturday's $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf (with trainers): Belligerence (Chris Hartman), Desert Wheat (Tony Richey), Kip Deville (Mike Neatherlin), Quest Venture (Mike Mitchell), Unruly (Cheryl Asmussen) and Wait in Line (Hartman).

More probables are likely to emerge after several nominees work over the turf course Monday.

In addition to the Texas Mile and Grand Prairie Turf Challenge, the $50,000 JEH Stallion Station Stakes will round out Saturday's stakes tripleheader.

DOWN THE STRETCH: Owner Dr. William Reed said he would consider Proven Cure, the incredible 12-year-old gelding who won Saturday's $40,000 Littlebitlively Stakes by three lengths, for the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint on Memorial Day, May 29. "We're probably going to give him a break, but the way he ran [Saturday] I would think about it," Reed said. "If he ran his race I would think we would be pretty tough in there." Reed said he was very impressed with Proven Cure's effort Saturday. "To win by three lengths in a stakes race going five furlongs is incredible," Reed said. The owner added that he was especially willing to consider the Beck Auto Group knowing that his trainer, John Locke, won the race last year with Oncearoundtwice...A total of 319 horses worked at Lone Star Park on Saturday and Sunday (182 on Saturday and 137 on Sunday)...Cliff Berry will begin the third week atop the Lone Star jockey standings with 15 wins from 51 mounts (a 29.4% win-clip). He's followed by Quincy Hamilton (12), Glen Murphy (10), Roman Chapa (8), Larry Taylor (7) and Jaime Theriot (6)...Cody Autrey remains atop the trainer standings with a two-win lead over Steve Asmussen, 14 wins to 12. They're followed by Bret Calhoun (6), John Locke (4), Donnie K. Von Hemel (4), Dallas Keen (3), Tommy Morgan (3) and Danny Pish (3)...Three owners have won three races at the nine-day-old meet: Charles Fletcher, Mike Moore and the partnership Wimp Free Racing Stables...Saturday's Texas Mile program will double as Dollar Day featuring hot dogs, beer, popcorn, general admission, parking and programs for $1 apiece...Friday's Party at the Park in the Courtyard of Champions will feature music by TOP and drink specials from 7-11 p.m...Icehouse will perform in the Courtyard between 12-4 p.m. Saturday...Sundays double as Senior Citizens' Day with free admission for fans 62 and up...During Thursday's racing program, the annual "Dallas Symphony Derby" will take place in the Silks Dining Terrace, benefiting the Education and Community Outreach Program of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League...Wednesday's feature race is a $31,000 allowance, with $45,000 claiming option, for older females at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf. Favored is a formidable entry of Goodie Good Girl, winner of the Oklahoma Classics Filly & Mare Turf, and Honor the Flag, a Remington Park stakes winner trying the turf for the first time. Both fillies are co-owned by Cheyenne Stables. The first race Wednesday is 6:35 p.m.

By Jim Mulvihill
Additional reporting by Darren Rogers

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