07/15/2004 12:00AM

Excellent encore by Brennan

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Last year, trainer Terry Brennan returned to Louisiana Downs for the first time since the mid-1980's and won with close to 40 percent of his starters, including six straight winners in September.

This year, he is having another strong meet at the Bossier City, La., track, and on Saturday will send out Punchin' Gal as one of the top contenders in the featured 10th race. A five-furlong turf sprint for optional claimers, the race drew a full field of 12 fillies and mares. Leading rider Lonnie Meche has the mount on Punchin' Gal.

Brennan has won with 26 percent of his starters at the meet through Thursday, with one of his most popular winners being Slitherin. The horse won his third straight race at the meet last Sunday, when he captured a one-mile turf optional claimer. Slitherin, who is 3, also won his maiden and a conditioned allowance at Louisiana Downs.

"The horses are running good so far," said Brennan.

Slitherin races for Ya Ya Stable, and is one of a number of promising young horses in the Brennan barn. The trainer also has a number of well-bred 2-year-olds getting ready to make their debuts over the next few months, including offspring of Grand Slam, Stormy Atlantic, and Mutakddim.

Last fall, Brennan sent out Was My Case to win his maiden at Louisiana Downs, and the colt developed into a quality front-running sprinter over the winter at Oaklawn. In his most recent start, he was fifth in the $50,000 Kings Court at Louisiana Downs in May.

He was found to have a bone chip in his knee after that race, and has since had surgery to have it removed. Brennan said Was My Case will make his return at Oaklawn, where he won three stakes-quality allowances. Was My Case races for Jeff Rand.

Rand also owns Punchin' Gal, who will return to turf Saturday. The move should suit her. The last time she ran on the grass, she was second by a length in an entry-level allowance turf sprint. Punchin' Gal has good speed, and will be making her third start back from a layoff.

She is one of three starters on the card for Brennan. He also will be represented in the sixth with Disappearing, and the eighth with last-out winner Arpent. Those horses will also be ridden by Meche, who was a regular aboard the Brennan horses last year at Louisiana Downs.

Skymeister eyes third straight

Skymeister will shoot for his third straight win at the Louisiana Downs meet in the fifth race Saturday, and is in a position to get the job done with the move to a conditioned allowance. Skymeister won the $50,000 Arcadia at the track in his last start, one race removed from a 5 1/4-length maiden win at Louisiana Downs May 20.

Skymeister worked a bullet four furlongs in 48 seconds on Sunday. Meche has the mount for trainer Al Stall Jr.

The six-furlong allowance, which carries a $34,000 purse and is restricted to Louisiana-breds, also drew stakes winner Brandon's Marfa. Brandon's Marfa won the $84,000 Louisiana Futurity at Fair Grounds in his second career start last December. Brian Hernandez Jr., the red-hot Evangeline Downs-based apprentice, has the mount for trainer William Meaux.

* That Tat will start as the 120-pound highweight in the $50,000 Island Whirl Handicap on Sunday. The six-furlong race drew seven horses, including stakes winners Doctor Mike and More Crafty.

* The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Sales Company will hold its summer mixed sale at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette, La., on Aug. 8.