03/10/2004 12:00AM

Bigger challenge awaits Foxtrot Oscar

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Foxtrot Oscar, a South Carolina-bred colt who won the Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park last Saturday night, is scheduled to make his next start in the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 10, said his trainer, William Welch Jr.

Foxtrot Oscar rallied from 11th to beat favorite Sling Shot by a neck in the Texas Heritage, a one-mile race for 3-year-olds. Foxtrot Oscar covered the distance in 1:38.72. The win was his third from five starts.

"He came out of the race bucking and squealing and ate up the next morning," said Welch, who trains Foxtrot Oscar for his wife, Nancy Welch. "He's on top of his game right now."

Welch bought Foxtrot Oscar privately last year after seeing him work at Elloree Training Center in South Carolina.

"He just blew everything away, with a 160-pound boy on his back," said Welch, who is from South Carolina.

Foxtrot Oscar is by Sticks and Stones, who is a son of Broad Brush. Foxtrot Oscar is one of 16 horses whom Welch has in training at Sam Houston. After the meet closes next month, Welch will be based at Louisiana Downs.

The Texas Heritage has been a useful race, and, in the past, has produced a couple of starters for the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby. Among the stakes winners to come out of the race include Lexington Park, who won the race in 1999, and Leo's Last Hurrahy, a past champion in Texas.