03/06/2002 12:00AM

Hwy. 1 speeding at Oaklawn


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Stanley Roberts and Rick Turman, whose Hwy. 1 Racing Stable topped the owner standings last year at both Hoosier Park and Prairie Meadows, are in a good position to add an Oaklawn title to their collection. Heading into the races Wednesday, the partnership led the standings at the meet with seven wins, two more than runner-up Ted LaTour.

A title from Hot Springs would be a first for Roberts and Turman, and a meaningful one, as their stable is named for the highway both men live on in Arkansas. The two formed a partnership six years ago when they met through a mutual friend at Louisiana Downs, and for the first time since then they will return to the Bossier City, La., track this summer, having spent the past few seasons at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

"The purse structure has been going up pretty good there, and it's closer to home, so we're going," said Roberts. The move is also expected to send Rodney Trader, a stable rider for Roberts, back to Louisiana Downs for the first time since 1994.

Roberts, who operates a public stable, will continue to race at Prairie and Hoosier. He won the training titles at both tracks last year, and currently ranks fourth in the standings at Oaklawn, where he has 34 horses in training. He has another 60 horses of racing age at his training center in Forrest City, Ark.

Roberts runs a claiming operation for the most part, and this meet has haltered 12 horses on behalf of clients. The only trainer to claim more horses at the meet is Cole Norman, who has taken 14.

Hwy. 1 has had good success at the claim box. Last year, the partners claimed Art to Rain at Oaklawn for $20,000, and sent him out to win eight races from 14 starts in 2001. And in 1999, they claimed Explosive Ridge at Oaklawn for $5,000. He went on to win 8 of 11 starts for the partners in 2000.

But the best Hwy. 1 horse in the barn was not claimed. Dirty Mike was a $5,000 weanling purchase who has to date earned $303,880.

Noll out for week

Cindy Noll, the all-time winningest female rider at Oaklawn, took off her mounts Wednesday after being diagnosed with a cracked rib. Doctors advised Noll not to ride for at least a week, said her agent, James Farmer.

Noll was injured last Friday when her mount I'm Still a Believer broke down and sent her to the ground. An initial examination did not reveal the crack, and Noll rode later on the card Friday and on Saturday. A second X-ray on Tuesday revealed the crack.

Captain Countdown to Premiere

Captain Countdown, who won his second consecutive Jersey Village Stakes last month at Sam Houston Race Park, will go for his second straight win in the Premiere Stakes at Lone Star Park on April 4. Captain Countdown won the opening night stakes last year, which set the tone for trainer Steve Asmussen's championship season at Lone Star.

Asmussen is having as big a meet at Sam Houston, where he leads the standings over runner-up Danny Pish, 49 wins to 28.

Captain Countdown is one of three stakes winners Asmussen has saddled at Sam Houston in the last three weeks. His other stakes winners were Sly Kona, who is to run in the $30,000 Oaks there Saturday night, and Faxamillion, who captured last weekend's $30,000 Spindletop. Faxamillion is headed next to the $30,000 Texas Heritage at Sam Houston on March 16.

* Trainers Fred Bass and Gilbert Ciavaglia have been suspended and fined by Sam Houston stewards for separate medication infractions. Bass was suspended 180 days and fined $2,000 after the painkiller lidocaine was found in the system of two of his charges, while Ciavaglia was given a 60-day suspension and fined $750 after one of his charges tested positive for guanabenz, a human blood pressure medication that works as a calming agent.

* Lone Star will feature appearances by an eclectic mix of high-profile Texans during opening weekend. Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey will ride at the track April 4; singer Willie Nelson will perform April 5; and reigning bantamweight boxing champ Paulie Ayala will participate in a sparring session April 6.

* Jockey Don Simington won four races last week at Sam Houston to overtake Glen Murphy in the standings after Murphy missed last week because of a cracked rib. Murphy was to return to the saddle Wednesday.