06/25/2002 11:00PM

Austiana returning as Sam Houston opens


The 43-date summer Quarter Horse season at Sam Houston Race Park starts on Friday night with Austiana, a two-time stakes winner last summer at Sam Houston, making her 2002 debut in the $10,000 Harris County Stakes for Texas-bred fillies and mares at 400 yards.

Owned by Teddy Abrams and trainer Janet VanBebber, Austiana won the Miss Houston Stakes and the Yellow Rose Stakes during the 2001 Sam Houston season. Last year she won 5 of 8 starts.

Opening night was slated to include the trials to the Grade 1 MBNA America Texas Challenge. Since only 12 horses entered, there are not enough horses to warrant trials. Trial entrants, including Remington Park Championship winner Bugs By Yawl and two-time derby winner Streakin Sin Tacha, are eligible for the 440-yard finals, worth $80,000, on July 13.

On Saturday night, the veteran 6-year-old gelding Turfinator is expected for the $10,000-added Stephen F. Austin Stakes at 350 yards. He won the Hill Country Handicap at Retama Park on May 31.

The season runs on a Thursday-through-Sunday evening schedule. First post time will be 7 pm Thursday through Saturday, and 5 pm on Sundays.

The meet's stakes schedule is highlighted by the Texas Summer Showdown, with five stakes races on July 27, and the Grade 1 Sam Houston Futurity and the Grade 2 Sam Houston Derby doubleheader on closing day, Sept. 7

World champ expected at Delta

Trainer Janet VanBebber says she will probably run world champion Tailor Fit in the Grade 2, $60,000 MBNA America East Challenge on Sunday, the highlight of four stakes over two days at Delta Downs.

Tailor Fit, the 1999 and 2001 world champion, is trying to rebound after being upset in his only two starts this year. He finished second by a neck in each race, the Grade 1 Remington Park Championship and the Grade 1 MBNA America Oklahoma Challenge.

Tailor Fit, the winner of eight Grade 1 stakes, wrapped up his 2001 world championship with a victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 16, his most recent victory.

The Delta Downs stakes four-pack begins on Saturday night with the Grade 3, $68,380 Kindergarten Futurity and Louisiana-breds in the Grade 3, $143,880 Lee Berwick Futurity.

The 350-yard Kindergarten field is led by fastest-qualifier Cairinas Royal Snow, who win his maiden in his trial, his second career start. He raced the 350 yards in 17.865 seconds to win the fifth of five trials at 27-1.

In the Lee Berwick Futurity, owners James and Teresa Vance have the first- and third-fastest qualifiers, Sum Kinda Illusion and Dashin Rocket Rebel.

Fastest qualifier Sumkinda Illusion won her maiden race in her trial, defeating fellow qualifiers Wordly Warrior and Him Astreaker. Dashin Rebel Rocket was second in his trial behind second-fastest qualifier Magical Perry.

On Sunday, fastest qualifier JLS Streak of Dash goes for his fifth win from seven starts in the $36,030 Kindergarten Derby. JLS Streak of Dash topped the qualifiers with a time of 20.119 seconds for the 400 yards.