08/02/2005 11:00PM

Bettors with small bankrolls get more bang for their buck

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Retama Park has slashed its minimum wagering prices for its 43-night meet that opens Friday. And the lower minimums have come at an opportune time. Retama is filled to the rafters with horses, and the new minimums in place will make it easier for players to spread out on all sorts of wagers offered by the San Antonio-area track, which will race through Oct. 15.

Retama will offer 10 cent superfectas on its races for the first time, and has reduced the minimum on all other wagers from $2 to $1. The wagering menu also includes a reduced 12 percent takeout on the track's pick threes, a longtime staple at Retama.

"We're excited about the number of horses we have," said Bryan Brown, chief executive officer of Retama. "Our barns are completely full. We have more horses than we've had the past couple of years."

"We had around 1,600 horses apply for the 1,230 stalls that are available," said James Leatherman, the new racing secretary at Retama.

Leatherman said the work tabs have been long in the last week, which he hopes will translate into large fields.

"We had something like 145 horses work on Saturday, and 120-something on Sunday," he said. "That makes you feel good. You know your horses are getting ready to run."

Purses will average $94,000 a day, an increase of $4,000 a card over last year, thanks to good simulcast business and a productive Thoroughbred meet a year ago, said Brown.

As for stakes, 10 of the 16 will be run on turf, the most notable being the $100,000 Ketel One El Joven and the $100,000 M2 Technology La Senorita, a pair of one-mile races for 2-year-olds that will share a card on Sept. 3. There is also the $470,000 Patron Tequila Turf Festival, a program of Texas-bred stakes headed by the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame on Oct. 1.

The $1 million stakes program gets started Friday night, with Captain Malory looking like a strong favorite in the $40,000 J.R. Straus Memorial. He has won 4 of his last 6 starts, and comes into the six-furlong race on the heels of a 3 1/4-length win in an optional claiming race at Lone Star on June 29 that was worth a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

"If he can duplicate that, I think he can be one-two," said Cody Autrey, who trains Captain Malory. "He's a nice horse."

At a glance:

RACING SCHEDULE: 43 nights; Friday through Oct. 15; racing on a Thursday through Sunday basis in August, and Wednesday through Saturday in September and October. The lone exception is a Sunday card on Sept. 4.

POST TIME: 6:45 p.m. Central, except on Sundays when first post is 5:30 p.m.

HIGHLIGHTS: $100,000 Ketel One El Joven and $100,000 M2 Technology La Senorita, Sept. 3; $470,000 Patron Tequila Turf Festival, a program of Texas-bred stakes topped by the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes, Oct. 1.

ADMISSIONS: General, $2.50; free on selected Fridays and Saturdays

PARKING: General, $2; valet, $5

SIMULCASTING: Daily

LOCATION: Located in northeast San Antonio, near the intersection of Interstate 35 and Loop 1604.

PHONE: (210) 651-7000

INTERNET: www.retamapark.com