07/30/2001 11:00PM

Explosive Truth sending Norman Saratoga-bound

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Explosive Truth, winner of last month's $100,000 Middleground Stakes at Lone Star Park near Dallas, will make his next start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special on Aug. 15, trainer Cole Norman said. The Louisiana Downs-based colt will be Norman's first starter at Saratoga.

"I know my dad shipped a few over there, but I never have been," said Norman, the 32-year-old son of the late trainer Gene Norman.

Explosive Truth won his maiden by 10 1/2 lengths in his second career start, then returned last out to win the Middleground, closing from midpack to take the 5 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-olds in 1:03.38. For his effort the colt, a son of first-crop stallion Proudest Romeo, earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure. Anthony Lovato has the mount in the Saratoga Special.

Norman said three days after saddling Explosive Truth at Saratoga, he will be at Arlington Park to run Royal Spy in the Grade 1, $400,000 Secretariat. Both horses race for Dr. K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman.

Nuclear Assembly staying home

Nuclear Assembly, who ran second to Explosive Truth in the Middleground, will stay closer to home than his Saratoga-bound rival will. Trainer Brent Davidson has a series of Louisiana Downs stakes penciled in for Nuclear Assembly: the $40,000 Pioneer on Aug. 18; the $40,000 Minstrel on Sept. 8; the $75,000 Sport of Kings Futurity on Sept. 29; and the $100,000 Friendship on Nov. 10.

Nuclear Assembly won the first three starts of his career, including a division of the $150,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity, before he was beaten 1 3/4 lengths in the Middleground.

Hallowed Dreams back

Hallowed Dreams drilled four furlongs in a bullet 49 seconds last Saturday at Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, her first work since undergoing minor surgery to remove a growth from her girth line in June. "She's back," said trainer Lloyd Romero.

Romero said there is a chance Hallowed Dreams, who has won 23 of 24 career starts, could make her comeback in the $50,000 Monique Rene at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 26. In her most recent start the filly won the $75,000 Miller Lite Stakes at Lone Star on June 23. Hallowed Dreams's main objective this season is several stakes at Fair Grounds.

Answer Lively sister tries two turns

Numerous Answers, a half-sister to 2-year-old champion Answer Lively, will make her first start around two turns in the fourth race Thursday, a mile and 70-yard conditioned allowance worth $20,000. "She should run a big race," said trainer Shane Wilson. "The further she goes, the better she's going to get."

Numerous Answers won her maiden in her last start, at seven furlongs on July 15. "She did it pretty easy. She was pricking her ears at the wire," Wilson said. "I think she could develop into a stakes-quality filly."

Numerous Answers, a 3-year-old daughter of Numerous, races for her breeder, John Franks, who also raced Answer Lively, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 1998. David Guillory has the mount Thursday.

Second floor gets good reviews

Louisiana Downs opened its redesigned second floor on Saturday, and returns were positive, especially on the north end, where the track installed two walls of televisions and 268 individual betting carrels for simulcast players. "It's a nice setup," said satisfied customer Bill Lee of Bossier City. "You've got more screens, which gives us a better view of the races."

The facelift is part of an overall renovation at Louisiana Downs in preparation to install slot machines on the first floor. Louisiana Downs general manager Ray Tromba expects to name a slots casino manager in the next two weeks, and has already hired a gaming controller, Marie Gant, who comes to Louisiana Downs from nearby Hollywood Casino.

Louisiana Downs hopes to open its slots casino in the second quarter of 2002.

* Unrullah Bull, Big Numbers, Rebridled, and Gold Cure are among the probables for the $75,000 Ark-La-Tex Handicap on Saturday.