11/06/2002 1:00AM

Even Norman must rest


Cole Norman, the nation's third leading trainer by wins, will give most of the 80 horses in his care the rest of the year off after the Louisiana Downs meet closes on Sunday.

"We're not going to be running the six to eight head every day. Just stakes," said Norman, who plans to base at Louisiana Downs, which operates as a training center after the meet ends, and ship in for stakes at Fair Grounds, Delta Downs and Sam Houston Race Park.

Norman has made it his practice the past five years to give his entire stable a winter breather, and the move has paid dividends. Norman won his second Oaklawn title in April; finished second in the Lone Star Park standings in July; and this weekend, will take home his fifth consecutive title from Louisiana Downs.

Norman broke his own record for trainer wins in a season at Louisiana Downs last Thursday, when he saddled his 109th winner at the meet. Heading into the races this Thursday, he led the standings with 116 wins. Overall this year, Norman has won 251 races from 873 starts for earnings of $4 million.

"The horses need a break," said Norman. "We ran hard from Oaklawn to Lone Star to here. We'll crank up again at Oaklawn."

Bourque makes comeback

Jockey Steve Bourque was leading the standings at Evangeline Downs nine weeks ago when he injured his neck and hand in a morning training accident. He made his comeback last Saturday night with a third-place finish aboard shipper Lisa's Approval in the $30,000 Jiffy Lube at Sam Houston.

For the rest of the winter he will be based at Delta, which opened Thursday night with a record $160,000 a day purse structure courtesy of the track's 1,492 slot machines. Last year, Bourque returned to his home track of Delta after having won multiple titles at Sam Houston. Bourque went on to win the Delta title, his sixth at the track.

"It's great the way the purses are up at Delta," said Bourque. "I really never thought I'd see it. I remember riding for $1,700 purses."

Bourque had to undergo neck and hand surgery after he was thrown from a mount during morning workouts two months ago. His recovery has gone well, and he looks forward to a strong Delta meet, with one of his chief supporters being defending leading trainer Doris Hebert.

The two will team together Friday night with Steponit Bad Boy in a $20,000 allowance sprint that also drew regional stakes performer L.A. Spider Legs.

My three sons

Trainer Steve Asmussen and his wife, Julie, celebrated the birth of their third son, Eric Mark Asmussen, on Monday. The couple has two other sons, Keith and Darren.

The Asmussens make their home in Arlington, Texas, which is located near Lone Star Park.

* Maysville Slew, third to Bien Nicole last out in the $150,000 DeBartolo Memorial Turf at Remington Park, is being pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17 and will then run back in the Grade 2, $400,000 Clark Handicap on Nov. 29.

* It'sallinthechase, who last year won the $100,000 MEC Mile for 2-year-olds at Remington, has undergone surgery to remove a small bone chip from his left ankle. Trainer Wilson Brown said the colt would return to action next summer at Canterbury Park.

* Walk in the Snow, second in the $500,000 Super Derby and a romping winner of the $60,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby, has been named horse of the meet at Louisiana Downs. He is owned by Ginger Taylor and trained by her husband, Herman Taylor.

* Sam Houston patron Thomas Luong cashed in a mystery mutuel voucher worth $10,000 in a track promotion Saturday.