09/10/2002 11:00PM

Big Hubie a get-well tonic for his trainer

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Trainer Kenny Smith's stable has been doing well the last month at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., but he has not. Smith recently had his tonsils removed, and has been slowly regaining his health.

"I've lost 40 pounds," said the trainer, who was at the Keeneland sale Wednesday.

Despite the physical setback, Smith is in good spirits because of horses like Big Hubie, who came within a nose of winning his fourth straight race Sept. 2 when he was edged by Rebridled in the $50,000 Barksdale Handicap at Louisiana Downs.

Smith said he will run Big Hubie back Sept. 22 in the $100,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap.

"Big Hubie ran a great race," the trainer said. "Things didn't open up at the right time for him, and if they had, I think he would have won."

Big Hubie races for country recording artist Toby Keith, and is named for Keith's father.

Smith, who is 9 for 54 in his first season at Louisiana Downs, is one of a handful of trainers who manage horses for Keith, a relative newcomer to the owners' ranks who races under the banner Dream Walkin Farms. Last weekend at Louisiana Downs, Keith and Smith had a promising 2-year-old debut winner in the homebred Poppa's Plug.

"He's a nice horse," said Smith.

Keith, the trainer said, "is slowly, methodically putting together a real good stable."

Bien Nicole may start at Arlington

Bien Nicole, who won her third straight race last Saturday in the $150,000 River Cities Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs, could make her next start at Arlington Park in the $100,000 Estrapade Handicap.

The Estrapade, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares, is to be run Oct. 25, the day before Arlington hosts the Breeders' Cup.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel liked how Bien Nicole adapted in the River Cities when faced with a turf course that had a little give because of rains. It was her first race on turf that wasn't firm. "I was very pleased with the outcome," said Von Hemel.

Bien Nicole, an improving daughter of Bien Bien, has won of 6 of 13 starts and $216,770. She races for her breeders, John and Kristine Richter.

Two possible spots for Padlock

Padlock, who has won stakes in his last two starts, could travel from his Retama Park base to Louisiana Downs later this meet for the $30,000 Excalibur over seven furlongs Nov. 2. The race is one of two trainer James Jones is considering for Padlock, who also is under consideration for the $30,000 Conroe at Sam Houston on Nov. 30.

Padlock won the Battle of the Alamo over seven furlongs Aug. 24, then came back and captured a two-turn stakes Sept. 7 when he won the off-the-turf $30,000 Jim Bowie.

"I really think he's better at one turn," said Jones, who trains Padlock for Adele Dilschneider.

Pedigree is one of the reasons for that opinion, said Jones, a former assistant to trainer Frank Brothers who worked with Padlock's half-sister Croupier. She was stakes-placed around one turn.

"I think she was at her best at seven furlongs," said Jones.

Super Derby comes into radar

The Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby will be run Sept. 21, and among the horses officials said are under serious consideration for 1 1/8-mile race are Private Emblem, winner of the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby; The Judge Sez Who, winner of the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby; A.P. Five Hundred; and Thunder Days.

* Candid Glen, runner-up in $100,000 Independence Breeders' Cup earlier in the meet, is getting a break from the races.

"I want to give him a little break from the heat," said his trainer, Andrew Leggio Jr.

* Electrode, who made it three wins in a row with his victory in the $40,000 Airline Stakes on July 28, has been given some time off and will make his return at Oaklawn, said his trainer, Cole Norman.

* After missing the past two weeks of racing with a bruised back, jockey Anthony Lovato is named to ride three horses Friday.