01/30/2003 1:00AM

A fresh Oak Hall primed for sprint


A mix of some of the best Louisiana-bred sprinters and routers will meet Saturday night in the $75,000 Bayou State, a seven-furlong race to be run around two turns at Delta Downs in Vinton, La.

The race should produce starters for the track's $150,000 Gold Cup for statebreds on March 2.

Oak Hall, who seems to turn in his best efforts with at least six weeks' rest between races, returns from a freshening of that length for the Bayou State. Oak Hall, a winner of 16 races and $538,792, finished a troubled fourth in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds on Dec. 14 most recently.

Trainer Keith Bourgeois is hoping a combination of the layoff and the prospect of a quicker pace with the turnback in distance will benefit Oak Hall.

"The race should set up good for him," Bourgeois said. "He needs a good pace to run at, and there should be plenty in the race."

Kirk LeBlanc has the mount.

Bet Me Best, a front-runner, seeks his second straight stakes win on Saturday. In his last start he tried two turns for the first time, and drove to a neck win in the $50,000 Cypress, a 6 1/2-furlong race at Delta.

"The two turns is nice for him because he can cut the corners with his natural speed," said Doris Hebert, who trains Bet Me Best for Troy Collins and WinStar Farm.

Bet Me Best, who will break from the rail, has worked sharply for Saturday's race, turning in a bullet four furlongs in 48.40 seconds on Jan. 26.

"He's ready to perform big," said Hebert, who has given the mount to Steve Bourque.

Others in the Bayou City include Zarb's Luck, winner of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint; Prince Slew, the second-place finisher two races back in the Champions Day Classic; and White Star, a winner of restricted stakes.

Fast colts at Sam Houston

There is no shortage of speed in Saturday night's $35,000 Bucharest, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Sam Houston Race Park.

Down Play and Mick, who dueled early last time out in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds, meet again in the Bucharest. The race has also drawn All American Blue, a developing colt who has won his last two starts. He is owned by Padua Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen.

All American Blue makes his stakes debut on Saturday night, following a wire-to-wire win over entry-level allowance foes at Fair Grounds in his last start, in which he covered six furlongs in 1:09.80. Previously, the Phone Trick colt had won his maiden by three lengths over return winner Oak Hill.

Corey Lanerie will ride.