10/08/2003 12:00AM

Breeders' Festival worth $620K


Some of the best Louisiana-breds in training will assemble at Louisiana Downs on Saturday to run in 12 stakes worth a cumulative $620,000. The annual Breeders' Festival, which had been run over two days, will be run on just one card this year, making it the second richest program of the meet, behind Super Derby Day.

The Festival, which features eight Thoroughbred stakes worth $500,000, is the first of three statebred championship days to be held in Louisiana. In December, Fair Grounds will hold the annual Louisiana Champions Day, and in February, Delta Downs will hold Louisiana Premier Night, a program of 10 statebred stakes worth a cumulative $1 million.

Most of the stakes that will make up the Breeders' Festival drew full fields when entries were taken Wednesday, and all of the values of the Thoroughbred stakes have been increased. Races worth $60,000 a year ago were increased to $75,000, and races worth $35,000 were increased to $50,000.

The centerpiece of the card is the $75,000 Shiskabob, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, which drew Coach Rags, White Star, Pink Duck, and Little Happy. Other top horses on the card include Prized Amberpro and Leslie's Love in the $50,000 Victoria; Doctor Mike and Witt Ante in the $50,000 Cajun; and Letithappencaptain in the $75,000 Oaks.

No shortage of speed in feature

There are at least six fillies or mares that could vie for the lead Friday in the featured 10th race at Louisiana Downs, a five-furlong turf allowance that drew 12. If Itsmybag repeats the 20.60-second opening quarter she turned in last out, she will control the pace.

Itsmybag zipped to the front in her last start and led through a half-mile in 44 seconds before finishing second in a five-furlong turf allowance. She has finished no worse than third in three races on the turf. Kirk LeBlanc has the mount for trainer Keith Desormeaux.

Another fast filly in the field is Gilded Wings, who figures to show more speed Friday than she has in her last two starts. A slow start from the rail left her far back in a five-furlong turf allowance two races ago, but in her last start she ran an even race in the slop in the $35,000 Adena Sprint at Remington Park.

Before those starts, Gilded Wings ran an opening quarter in 21.20 seconds in a turf sprint at Louisiana Downs, finishing second by a head. Tim Doocy has the mount for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Kotulak leaves booth for TVG

Chris Kotulak has left his post as the track announcer at Delta Downs to become a full-time anchor and analyst for Television Games Network, or TVG, a horseracing channel based in Los Angeles, Calif. A longtime announcer in this region, Kotulak has also called races at Louisiana Downs, Hollywood Park, Ak-Sar-Ben, and Fonner.

Kotulak, 41, began working for TVG in a freelance capacity in 2000.

"It was an extremely difficult decision for me to leave the announcer's booth, and I will sincerely miss my daily interaction with all of the hard-working horsemen, wonderful fans and devoted employees," he said. "But I'm fired up about my new position with TVG because I will continue to be involved in something I absolutely love, which is the promotion of horse racing."

Kotulak got his start in racing as a teenager, when he spent his summers working as a hotwalker for trainer Glenn Hild at Ak-Sar-Ben.