08/27/2009 11:00PM

Dugas gets off to good start as journeyman


Jockey Dustin Dugas could not have made a smoother transition from bug boy to journeyman. He won in his first start without an apprentice allowance on Thursday, when he guided Dr. Destructo to a head win in the second race at Louisiana Downs.

It was a long closing drive to the wire in the seven-furlong maiden claimer, and there was an inquiry into the start. In the end, Dugas landed in the winner's circle for the 29th time at the meet, which ranks him ninth this season at Louisiana Downs.

"I'm very happy," said Dugas, 17. "I've been looking on the overnights and seeing that I haven't lost any mounts I could have without the bug. A lot of trainers are supporting me, so I'm real pleased with it."

Dugas launched his career last summer at Louisiana Downs, winning his first race on July 26, 2008. As an apprentice, he won 81 races and compiled mount earnings of $1.4 million. He also won a stakes, taking the $50,000 Need for Speed in May at Evangeline Downs.

"It was a joy winning that one," said Dugas, who was aboard Call Me Collect.

Dugas said he has been riding since he was a child, getting his start with rodeo horses. But when a neighbor with a training track asked him if he wanted to get on some Thoroughbreds, he jumped at the chance.

"I said 'sure' and it was all over," said Dugas.

Dugas spent more than a year galloping horses for that neighbor, former trainer Zeke Zeringue, who was also instrumental in Joe Talamo's start in racing. Dugas is a second cousin to Talamo, a top-class rider who is now based in Southern California.

Dugas said that following the close of the Louisiana Downs meet in October he plans to ride at his home track of Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

His top mounts Sunday at Louisiana Downs include Midway Tap in the first, a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds at about a mile on turf. The colt was beaten just a length for everything in the $50,000 Sunny's Halo in his last start Aug. 15.

Cosmic possible for Temperence Hill

Cosmic, who is out of the champion racemare Heavenly Prize, is working at Louisiana Downs and is a candidate for the $50,000 Temperence Hill at the track Sept 19, said his trainer, Cecil Borel. Cosmic has won his last two starts, both allowance sprints at Churchill Downs.

"We freshened him up a little bit after Kentucky," said Borel, who trains Cosmic for Mary Grum.

Cosmic began his career in New York for the Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey before changing hands privately this past spring. He is a 4-year-old son of El Prado and a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Good Reward and Grade 2 winner Pure Prize. Ogden Phipps and McGaughey campaigned Heavenly Prize, a multiple Grade 1 winner of more than $1.8 million.

Jockey Calvin Borel, the younger brother of Cecil Borel, was aboard Cosmic for both of his wins at Churchill, which came in June and July.

The Temperence Hill, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up, will be run on the undercard of the Super Derby.

Milligan plans to run at Delta

Allen Milligan, who earlier this year won the training title at Oaklawn Park, plans to send a division of horses to Delta Downs in Vinton, La., for the first time this winter. The meet opens Oct. 14 and runs through March 20, 2010. Milligan, who also will have horses at Oaklawn, is currently racing at Arlington Park, Louisiana Downs, and Remington Park.

* Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., has made $100,000 in renovations to its track surface for the mixed meet that opens Sept. 12. More than 5,000 cubic yards of new material was added to the one-mile oval, according to a release issued by the track. The infield also has been upgraded with a new "water feature," new landscaping, and a large logo for Zia. The track will race through Dec. 8.

* Remington Park this week will begin racing on Mondays.