07/15/2003 11:00PM

Beau's Town coming West

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Beau's Town, the top sprinter in the Midsouth this year, will give trainer Cole Norman his first starter in California in the $200,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar on July 26.

Norman on Wednesday said Beau's Town will be shipped to California this weekend after a workout Friday at Louisiana Downs.

Beau's Town has won 3 of 4 starts this year, all in stakes races. A 5-year-old, Beau's Town will face a strong field that will include Kona Gold, the 2000 champion sprinter, and Captain Squire, winner of the Sunshine Millions Sprint earlier this year.

"We better bring our running shoes, but we'll know where we stand," Norman said. "He hasn't been worse than second this year."

Owned by David Hulkewicz and Coast to Coast Racing, Beau's Town this year has won the King Cotton Stakes and Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Pelleteri Stakes at Fair Grounds. In his most recent start, he finished second to Mountain General in the Grade 3 Aristides Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs.

"We gave him a little breather before we ran at Churchill Downs," Norman said. "He just got caught at the wire."

Norman, 34, has won training titles this year at Oaklawn Park and Lone Star Park. Through Sunday, Norman ranked third among the nation's trainers in wins (185) and eighth in earnings ($3,458,187). Since Lone Star Park ended last weekend, he has relocated his 128-horse stable to Louisiana Downs.

The visit to Del Mar will be Norman's first to California since he accompanied his late father, Gene, to the 1984 Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park. Gene Norman trained Explosive Wagon, who finished 10th in the Sprint.

Norman said he has been waiting for the right opportunity to try a California stakes race. He feels that Beau's Town, a winner of 9 of 13 starts and $379,400, gives him that chance.

"I don't think in the past few years I've had the quality of horses where I feel we have a decent shot," he said. "If you're going, you better be prepared. I'm looking forward to it. It will be a little time to get away. It will be a working vacation."

Ruler's Court a heavy choice

The proximity of Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the $125,000 Graduation Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar July 30 is costing the Hollywood Park race a few starters.

The six-furlong Juvenile is expected to include Blairs Roarin Star, Dave the Dude, Perfect Mandate, Ruler's Court, and Tricky Flash Flood, with Ruler's Court a strong favorite. Two nominees who won stakes races at Hollywood Park - Alpenfest and Stalking Tiger - are likely to wait for the Graduation, which is not only more lucrative but run at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Mike Harrington trains Alpenfest, the winner of the Proctor Memorial Stakes, and Dave the Dude, who won a maiden race for California-breds June 4 and was a well-beaten third behind Stalking Tiger in the Haggin Stakes June 21.

Dave the Dude will be Harrington's lone starter in the Juvenile, a race he won in 1996 with Swiss Yodeler, the colt's sire. Wednesday, Dave the Dude worked three furlongs in 37.20 seconds, and Alpenfest went the same distance in 38.80 seconds.

"He's training better right now," Harrington said of Dave the Dude. "Alpenfest is a nice horse and there's no use hurrying him."

Stalking Tiger worked a half-mile in 47.20 seconds Wednesday. Trainer Paul Aguirre said there is a chance Stalking Tiger will start in the Juvenile, but said the Graduation is the more likely spot.

Sunday's feature is the $150,000 Sunset Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf. Continental Red, second in the 2002 running, will face Asong for Billy, Cagney, Nazirali, Night Patrol, Puerto Banus, Stormin' Heaven, and Tifonica.

Cagney will be the starting highweight at 116 pounds. Trained by Richard Mandella, Cagney finished third in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf June 14, finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind Storming Home.

Cagney is winless in his last eight starts, dating back to the 2001 Carleton Burke Handicap at Santa Anita.

Slew the Red to stud in South Africa

Slew the Red, a four-time stakes winner in France who was stakes placed this year in Texas, has been retired to stud in South Africa, trainer Neil Drysdale said Wednesday.

Slew the Red, 6, has begun the quarantine process required before he is exported.

Owned by Sheikh Maktoum, Slew the Red finished his career with five wins in 22 starts and earnings of $275,313.

In France, Slew the Red won two Group 3 stakes races in 2001 while trained by Andre Fabre. Later that year, he was unplaced in the Canadian International and Breeders' Cup Turf before joining Drysdale's barn.

In eight starts with Drysdale, Slew the Red won an allowance race and placed in two stakes races, finishing second in the Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park in his final start June 21 and third in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico in 2002.

Ministers Wild Cat in Oceanside

Drysdale is likely to start Ministers Wild Cat in Wednesday's $100,000 Oceanside Stakes on turf on opening day of the Del Mar meet.

The Oceanside is restricted to non-winners of a stakes race with a first-place purse of $50,000 this year.

Ministers Wild Cat has won 3 of 6 starts and $144,000 for owner-breeders Irving and Marjorie Cowan. He won the Golden State Mile on dirt at Golden Gate Fields in February and finished second in the El Camino Real Derby in March and Affirmed Handicap in June.

By Deputy Minister out of Hollywood Wildcat, the 1993 champion 3-year-old filly, Ministers Wild Cat has yet to start on turf.

The Oceanside is expected to split. Among the probable starters are Banshee King, Crowned Dancer, Devious Bay, Fairly Ransom, Helms Deep, Royal Robe, Singletary, Stanley Park, and Sweet Return.