11/05/2003 12:00AM

Husband-wife team on a roll at Remington


It's uncommon in racing to have husband and wife team up as trainer and jockey. It's even more rare to see both among the leaders at the same meet. But that's the case for jockey Nena Matz and her husband, trainer Zachary Armstrong, who rank second in their respective standings at Remington Park.

Matz, 37, has been on a roll since Remngton's summer mixed meet. She carried that momentum to the fall season, where she has won 55 races. Armstrong has won with 15 of 45 starters at Remington.

"Work has been a lot of fun this meet," said Matz, who is in the midst of a career year. "I'm on live horses and they make my job easy."

Armstrong, 33, is having his best season ever at Remington.

"It's been super," he said. "We had a lot of horses with conditions, which is what you need. And when you have owners that let you run them in the right spots, that usually makes for a pretty good combination."

Matz and Armstrong were married in 1996, and they have two daughters, Emma, 7, and Ami, 3. The whole family is enjoying what will be a meet to remember.

"We do work well together," said Matz. "He's easy to ride for. He's like my biggest fan. He thinks I rock."

"It's been real good," agreed Armstrong. "Nena has always done well here, but never had any kind of representation, never had an agent, and this year Pete Caparelli took her book and got her on some live horses and she was able to produce. It's just gone from there."

Matz, who missed the first three months of 2003 with an injury, has won 89 races so far this year, which is a personal best. According to Armstrong, Matz's best previous year came in 1992, when she won 72 races while based at Philadelphia Park.

Among the top horses Matz has ridden at the meet are George Taylor, longshot winner of the $75,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Classic, and Pleasant Cloud, who has won seven of her last eight starts, with four of those wins coming under Matz at Remington.

Following the current meet, Matz and Armstrong will race at Sunland Park near El Paso, Texas.

An owner title for Asmussen?

Most know Steve Asmussen as a top trainer. But this season at Louisiana Downs, he has made a splash as an owner, and through Wednesday led that category in the track's standings with 17 wins.

Gary and Mary West rank second with 16 wins, followed by two-time defending champ Ken Murphy with 15.

Asmussen, who was the nation's leading trainer in wins in 2002, has built up his own personal stable, mostly through the claim box. His philosophy is simple.

"If you think he's worth [$30,000] and he's in for [$20,000], try it," he said.

"I don't want to talk anybody into anything. If I see something I want, I take it."

Asmussen claimed Warleigh for $100,000 this summer at Saratoga and brought him in to win the $100,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap. One of his other success stories is The Niner Account, who went 4 for 4 this meet at Louisiana Downs.

In the trainer standings, Asmussen ranks second to Cole Norman, who will collect his sixth straight Louisiana Downs title when the meet ends on Sunday.

Oak Hall points for Championship

Oak Hall, a top Louisiana-bred who has not raced since finishing third in an opening day allowance at Louisiana Downs in June, is being pointed for the $200,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championship at Delta Downs on Feb. 7.

"We gave him a rest, and he'll be back, probably after the first of the year," said his trainer, Keith Bourgeois.

Oak Hall, a 7-year-old gelding, has won 17 races and $622,917.

* Bedanken has resumed serious training, and is expected to make her comeback at Fair Grounds, said her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel. In her last start, Bedanken was a seven-length winner of the $100,000 Pago Hop at Fair Grounds. Overall, she has won 7 of 10 starts and $281,074 for Pin Oak Stable.

* For the second straight card the feature at Louisiana Downs will go as the first race. The 7 1/2-furlong turf allowance set for Friday has drawn a stakes-quality field of five fillies and mares. Among those entered are stakes winners Due to Win, Very Geri, and I'm the Business.

* Trainer Jeff Trosclair said the long-term goal for Skate Away, who won the $35,000 Buffalo Bayou at Sam Houston last Saturday night, is the track's $200,000 Connally on April 10. Earlier this year, Skate Away won the $125,000 DeBartolo at Remington.

* Gettahead, a yearling filly by Excavate, brought a bid of $31,000 from James Pleasant, agent, to top the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders' Sales Company winter mixed auction at Delta on Sunday.

* Jockey Otto Thorwarth has moved his tack to Sam Houston.