02/27/2004 1:00AM

Danieltown back racing at his favored distance


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Danieltown, a 16-length winner the last time he raced over six furlongs, returns to that distance Sunday in the seventh race at Oaklawn Park.

Restricted to 3-year-olds, the $60,000 optional claimer also drew the promising South Africa, who was entered in the $100,000 Southwest here Saturday.

Danieltown earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his double-digit romp in a one-other-than allowance Jan. 24. He stretched out to a mile for his last start, in the $50,000 WEBN at Turfway Park, and dueled early before finishing seventh.

Although he rates as one of the meet's promising 3-year-olds, Danieltown was not among the early nominees to the $1 million Arkansas Derby at a mile and an eighth April 10.

"He just can't go that far," said Flint, who trains Danieltown for Stonerside Stable.

Danieltown instead is developing into a strong sprinter. In addition to his recent allowance score, he won his maiden by 17 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong race last September. For that effort, he earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. Tim Doocy has the mount Sunday.

Horsemen see bill as relief

The passage of a bill Thursday that would allow slots-type gaming at three racetracks in Oklahoma was seen as a huge win by state horsemen currently based at Oaklawn.

"I think for Oklahoma racing, there wasn't anything more important," said Donnie Von Hemel, the all-time winningest trainer at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

"It's a big relief, especially for people who own property and facilities in Oklahoma."

Oklahoma racing has been experiencing a downward trend in the face of increased gaming competition in the state, from casinos run by Native Americans, and out of state, with the addition of slots at tracks in Louisiana and New Mexico.

Corey Johnsen, a vice president for Magna, which owns Remington, said purses could average more than $200,000 a day next year with help from 650 gaming machines at Remington.

Johnsen and trainer Joe Lucas, president of the Oklahoma Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, were among the industry leaders who worked tirelessly to get the legislation passed in Oklahoma.

Great Notion back at Oaklawn

Great Notion, who was a nine-length winner of the Southwest a year ago, is back training at Oaklawn after a season in which he ran second in both the Grade 1 Kings Bishop and Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga.

Those efforts sent Great Notion to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint, and after his troubled 11th-place finish, his connections gave him a three-month vacation. He is back galloping, and figures to be a force in the sprint division this year at 4.

"He's doing well," said Darrin Miller, who trains Great Notion for Silverton Hill Farm. "He's filled out a lot. He has more of a manly look about him."

Miller has not targeted any specific races for Great Notion, but said aside from sprint stakes, he might see action on turf later this year. "We'd like to give him the option of the grass," he said. "I haven't had a proper work across the turf course or anything like that with him, but I have trained him on the turf and he enjoyed it. He seemed to cover it well."

Miller also said Great Notion gets pedigree support for the surface as a son of Elusive Quality.

Norwood, Winning Brief OK

Jockey Jake Norwood and his mount in Thursday's second race, Winning Brief, escaped serious injuries in a spill. Winning Brief flipped near the rail and appeared to fall on his neck in a $6,250 starter at 5 1/2 furlongs.

"When he hit the turn, Jake said [Winning Brief] got real heavy-headed with him, and he started to go down with him and he jumped off," said Randy Goodman, who trains Winning Brief.

As it turned out, Winning Brief bled through Lasix. He was making his first start for Goodman, who had claimed Winning Brief out of his last start Feb. 15. The horse is being given time to recover, but will probably run back before the close of Oaklawn.

"Jake's fine, and [Winning Brief] came back without a scratch on him," Goodman said.

* Agent Richard Boyd said he has begun booking mounts for Felix Ortiz, who is in his first season at Oaklawn.