Thursday, March 15, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 15, 2007 . . . The Tejano Run Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday pits early speed against the late run, and the 1 1/8-mile distance likely will be the decider.
The apparently indestructible 8-year-old Esprit Du Roi returns for his fourth start this year and his 81st overall. A champion sprinter in Chile, he was brought to the United States in 2005 and fell in love with Polytrack. Since December he has two wins and two seconds at Turfway, including a runner-up finish in the Dust Commander Stakes last month. A confirmed deep closer, he had plenty left at the end of that mile race but ran out of ground and lost by a head. He comes in to the Tejano Run off eight days' rest since his last start, a mile optional claiming win. Victor Lebron has been aboard for all his recent Turfway starts and returns again for trainer/owner Horacio Parisi.
Keeping Esprit Du Roi company at the back of the field will likely be Sidcup and Dynareign.
Dynareign won at 1 1/8 miles two starts ago on Polytrack but then was sixth in the Dust Commander, shorter by a furlong. He has trained extremely well over Polytrack since then, with two bullet works this month for trainer John Good. Phil Teator rides.
Sidcup's most recent wins came in Turfway's Prairie Bayou Stakes, also at 1 1/8 miles, and a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Keeneland, both on Polytrack and both with driving late runs. Alonso Quinonez is back aboard for trainer Walter Binder.
The speed belongs to Sweet Grass Creek and Starspangled Gator. 'Gator, whose running lines rarely show a number higher than 4, has won both his starts this year, including a good allowance over about 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Fair Grounds last month. He's three-for-six on Polytrack with two seconds. Ivan Gonzalez rides for trainer William Gowan.
Trainer Niall O'Callaghan returns Irish-bred Ascertain to the races for the first times since the 6-year-old gelding finished third in the Grade III Stars and Stripes at Arlington last July. His best performances have come from off the pace. Miguel Mena rides for trainer Niall O'Callaghan.
Completing the Tejano Run field are Pair of Kings (jockey Dean Butler), another closer; Fifth Page (Wilkin Ortiz); Jade's Revenge (Rodney Prescott); Bond Street (Julien Leparoux); Wayzata Bay (Orlando Mojica); and Sweet Grass Creek (Daniel Coa).
First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m.
Saturday is also the 2007 Lane's End Stakes souvenir glass giveaway. This is the 28th year the track has produced a glass commemorating its annual Kentucky Derby prep race. The first 1,500 fans through the gates will receive a free glass. Gates open at 11:15 a.m.