10/15/2001 11:00PM

All went according to plan for Richards


BOSSIER CITY, La. - The splash owner-trainer Corale "Bunky" Richards made at last weekend's Breeders' Festival at Louisiana Downs was more than two decades in the making. Richards, who won three stakes from five starters in the restricted series of races, made racing Louisiana-breds his focus in 1977 after he won the Crescent City Derby at Fair Grounds with his first racehorse, Orleans Artist.

Orleans Artist was later named the state's champion 3-year-old, and the experience led Richards to center his stable around Louisiana-breds. His game plan bore fruit Saturday and Sunday when he sent out White Star to win the $65,000 Shiskabob, Mrs. Mac to win the $64,450 Walmac Farm Matchmaker Stakes, and Rapide to win the $37,700 Stardust Stakes.

Richards had been pointing the horses for the Breeders' Festival since last year, when White Star won the Louisiana Breeders' Derby. "It was very deliberate," Richards said of his assault on this year's fourth annual Festival.

Richards is based at Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, where he has 30 horses in training, and where last year he developed Black Gold Futurity winner Rahy's Secret. "I think it really helps these horses, training on the deep track at Evangeline," said Richards. "I think that's what made Rahy's Secret so strong his 2-year-old year."

Richards, 59, said despite his success shipping from Evangeline, which operates as a training center when not conducting a live meet, he might make Louisiana Downs his base next year. Until then, he is plotting his next moves for his weekend winners, all of whom are being pointed for races during Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds on Dec. 8.

White Star will be pointed to the $150,000 Classic, Mrs. Mac will be supplemented to the $100,000 Ladies Handicap, and Rapide will point for the $100,000 Juvenile. Rapide is also under consideration for the $100,000-estimated Friendship Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Nov. 10.

Richards, who owns Rapide in partnership and trains his other Festival winners for outside clients, began his career in racing with Orleans Artist after spending 30 years researching and testing construction products for the U.S. government. He is a native of New Orleans.

Cole Norman was the only other trainer to match Richards's success over the weekend. Norman won three races from seven starters during the Breeders' Festival.

Midge Too stretches out

Midge Too, who won her second consecutive Victoria last Sunday, will stretch out around two turns later this season in the $100,000 Ladies Handicap. Trainer Jerry Cart said that before the Ladies, Midge Too would either run in an allowance race at Louisiana Downs, or ship to Remington Park in Oklahoma City for the $30,000 Ladys Secret Handicap on Nov. 17.

This year was the third consecutive year Midge Too has won a race at the Breeders' Festival. Her first win in the series came in 1999 in the Louisiana Breeders' Oaks.

* Hallowed Dreams, who has not raced since finishing third to Midge Too in the $50,000 Monique Rene Handicap on Aug. 26, is being pointed to the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint Handicap against male rivals Dec. 8 at Fair Grounds, said trainer Lloyd Romero.

* Island Guide, a strong third over yielding turf in his last start, is the one to beat in the featured eighth race Thursday. Leading rider Kirk LeBlanc has the mount on Island Guide, trained by Larry Robideaux Jr, in the one-mile turf race.

* Skipjack, the Louisiana Downs-based colt who won the $34,000 Norman Stakes at Remington Park on Oct. 7, is being pointed to the $100,000 Woodchopper Handicap at Fair Grounds on Dec. 22, said trainer Troy Young.