01/29/2004 1:00AM

Cat Genius tough on lead


Trainer Tom Amoss will start the probable favorites in stakes at Delta Downs and Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night. Amoss will send out Cat Genius in the $40,000 Cheval at Delta and Jimmy Cracked Corn in the $30,000 Bucharest at Sam Houston.

Cat Genius's excellent speed makes him a standout in the Cheval, a five-furlong race that drew nine horses, including stakes winner Joyful Tune. In his last start, Cat Genius wired the opposition in a six-furlong optional claimer at Fair Grounds, covering the distance in 1:09.60.

For his effort, he earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure, then was flattered when the third-place finisher from that race, Aloha Bold, came back to win a stakes in his next start at Fair Grounds.

"It looks like that horse of Tom Amoss's is the horse to beat," said trainer Cole Norman, who will start Joyful Tune.

Cat Genius races for John Parker and will be ridden by Steve Bourque.

Joyful Tune appears to be coming into a top effort. He returned from a two-month layoff last out and finished second in a five-furlong allowance at Delta. Overall, he has won 10 of 26 starts and $275,165. Gerard Melancon has the mount for PDR Racing.

Spin Zone will be shooting for his third straight win Saturday. He put together optional claiming wins at Delta over the five-furlong distance of the Cheval in his last two starts. Trainer Chad Hassenpflug has given the mount to C.J. Woodley.